Saturday, February 26, 2011

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Gregor (Guardian Series #2 of 4)

Guardian Series, #2: Gregor  © February 26, 2011 by yours truly.  This is the second in my Guardian Series, and you can see the first one here.  Done in pen and ink with silver highlights on Arches paper, the original is 12"x17", give or take.  It will make its way to my art site once it’s scanned. This is the third portrait of Gregor I've done since first becoming aware of him two years ago almost to the day.  As it's been buzzing around in my brain for a year, I’m very happy it’s on paper and done the way I envisioned it. 

I received five sheets of Arches paper from my friend Lambi in Greece.  She does almost all of her art on Arches.  This paper appeals so intently to me at this time because it’s really thick (just like I am) and once you commit to it, you’re in it until the drawing is done (just like a relationship).  My previous portraits of Francine were all about flexibility.  I layered paper as my perception of each version evolved. With this paper, layering is out.  I have to let myself go wherever the paper pushes the marker and hang with it when it happens.

Right now, as I navigate this crossroad in my life, I’m all about going with the flow; and as usual, my art is a reflection of where my head is.
Gregor: My Dragon Spirit Guide

Here is the first portrait of Gregor , and you can read about it here on my art site.   Read about how he emerged into my awareness here.  And there is more fiction type stuff here.
The Queen of Wands
(a self-portrait of sorts)
This is the second piece, in a self-portrait entitled “The Queen of Wands”. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adventures in Decompression

Mental Clutter on the Shelf

It’s been a bit over two weeks since my last day in the office.  I was laid off on February 4 and my journey with de-stressing began. 

I guess I was very tired because I’ve done a lot of napping.  I’ve enjoyed the luxury.  At the same time, my brain still thinks it’s going back to work in two days and has to get everything done by Monday morning.  So, I’ve got four lists going on simultaneously.  One is for home projects, one is for art website changes, one is for art business, and one is for generally creative ideas.   I’ve organized my creative space including some furniture assembly, re-organized Leslie’s patio at her direction, and re-decorated Elizabeth’s room. 

There is the usual stuff.  I’m paying the bills and partnering with Leslie on financial planning going forward.  I’ve updated my resume and comb the internet for jobs daily.  I’m planning Elizabeth’s summer, which will be busy, and I’m in the middle of a series of art works.  I write a blog post whenever I’m compelled.  Lately, that’s a lot.

I’ve been through the kitchen phase.  For two weeks, the kitchen was spotless before I went to bed.  That passed. I’m still in the laundry phase.  Every single piece of laundry is done, including the piles that build up when the bulk of it is sorted in the hallway.  I sense that phase will end soon.

The days go by quickly, and although I don’t have to be, I’m just as busy as I was when working.

I hope my brain figures out what’s going on before too long.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FROM OUR WORKSHOP: Ganesha (Guardian Series #1 of 4)

"Ganesha" Guardian Series # 1 of 4  © February 16, 2011 by Donna L. Faber, all rights reserved. This is the first in a series of images on Arches paper, and it was done using permanent fine ink and silver markers.

This inspiration for this project started with an original piece of art my Grecian friend, Lambi made for me and sent from Europe.  She uses Arches paper all the time, and it is strong enough to handle the multiple layers of texture and color she applies.  I love the piece she did for me, which is called “Full moon over mermaid with lotus”, but I also fell in love with the paper it was on.

When I went in search of Arches paper, I found it at Michael's Art Store, where there is a small 8x10 pad retailing at $75.00. There are perhaps 10 sheets in all.  Say what?  I couldn’t justify spending the money now, so I whined about it on Facebook instead.  And then, to my utmost surprise and amazement, my friend Lambi took it upon herself to send me four sheets from Athens.  What a sweet and genuine gesture!  I’ve worked with this paper for three days, and it is the most luxuriant, plush, and textured surface I’ve ever used.  It takes water color paper to the next level, and adds an element of surprise to what you’re applying to it by directing the pen unexpectedly from time to time.  It’s exciting!

I'm focusing on personal Guardians with this series, those who watch over us, remove our obstacles and keep us safe and protected.   Ganesh has always watched over my family, and about two months before my last job ended, I became focused on him intensely.  I knew Big Brother would take care of me, but I had no idea that the obstacle he had to nail to do so was my job.  When we ask the gods and goddesses, any diety, for assistance, it is best to prepare for anything!  They rarely give us want we want, but always give us with what we need. 

I’ll post this to my art site soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On the Road to the Next Chapter

"On the Road" by Liz
This is the view to the Pacific Ocean from where we live.

I arrived at work one lovely San Francisco morning six months into my last job, and a company-wide voicemail message announced a merger and public offering.  What came next was a year and a half of merger angst and position dismantling, inclusive of workplace ambiguity, a viral and almost pathological disregard for common workplace respect, intense trepidation, and then interview interrogation.  By the time they laid me off a week ago, I was relieved.  I’ve been through a merger in the past, but the difficulty I experienced here was epic, making this the most difficult period in my career.

This week has been about de-stressing and decompression, an on-going process, I’m sure.   I had no idea I was so wound up.  I’ve slept a lot as my inner workings reassemble, and the strangest thing keeps happening.  I might be standing in the hallway when I have a random office memory.  My muscles tighten up and I get a sick feeling in both my head and heart.  This is what I felt like for a year, and why I was in so much physical pain all the time.  I had to repress these feelings to work.  Then, I remind myself it’s a thing of the past , the tightening and sickness subsides, and I feel relieved and surprised; giddy even.  This gets less intense each day.

The last time I went through a period of unemployment, we were in Connecticut.   I left a job in San Francisco after 19 years because my career had stalled.   We sold our house in South City just before the real estate industry tanked and moved across country.  We had fun for a while, furnishing the house and all that, until the novelty wore off.  When it was time to go back to work, I discovered the job market had followed the housing market into the toilet, as well.  Even the market in New York City was tight.  It was a half year before I found a crappy position that paid less than half what I was making in San Francisco and was boring as hell.  I predicted we would return to the Bay Area precisely one year later, and that we did.

My job right now is to unwind, get my head together, and find my balance.  As the present evolves, I gain greater objectivity.  Looking back, I have no regrets.  I’m pleased I had the strength to stand up for myself at work when it became necessary.  I imagine kowtowing or kissing ass might have increased my chances for continued employment, but I just don’t have it in me.   Thank goodness.  Instead, I’ve completed a life cycle; a turbulent one that has created personal and professional strength in me, and I’m preparing for the next chapter.

The difference between this and Connecticut is that I’m in the place I love.  The Bay Area is beautiful and action packed.  I’m reminded of this each time I see the Pacific Ocean in the panoramic vista just down the street.  Tomorrow will take care of itself, but in the meantime, I’m going to make the most out of every moment.

There is, however, one thing I can state with absolute certainty.

The next time I hear the word “merger”, I will, without a doubt, run screaming in the opposite direction.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Create Peace: More on Cyber-Bullying

Create Peace
Read the first post on this right here!

From where we sat in the van watching our daughter leave school grounds, Leslie and I could tell Elizabeth had a good day and was in a good mood.  We were so relieved.  

We're in the midst of our first experience with cyber-bullying, the details of which are here.

When I called the school’s principal, I didn’t know if he would support me or blow me off.  The truth is school administrators have no responsibility over what students do on their own time, and so cyber-bullying and other negative activity on the internet falls into a grey area school administrators don’t have to be bothered with.  But, this principal took notes on my concerns during our conversation.  He asked me questions, wanted details, and said he’d reach out to Elizabeth at school, even though there was a good chance she would be hesitant to say anything.

They met with Elizabeth just before the last class of the day.  He brought one of his guidance counselors, a woman, to break the ice, and in fact, she did most of the talking.  They went into all of Elizabeth concerns, including the teachers and how mean they are.  They asked if she wanted to come to school, and she gave them an honest answer:  No.  She spoke truthfully about her feelings, including who she thought left those nasty messages on Formspring.   Our daughter wasn’t threatened by their conversation, and she very well could have been (in which case she’d have clammed up big time), so I know they did the job right. 

I’m glad I called the principal.  Even though Elizabeth said she didn’t want us to interfere, I can see how important it is to her that we did.   We also decided to leave her Formspring account just the way it is. 

Eighth grade haters, beware.

We’re on to you now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eighth Grade Cyber-Balderdash

Well, it finally happened.  Elizabeth has been attending school for 10 years including pre-K and this is the first time we’ve encountered cyber-bullying that is intense enough to get us involved.  It happened on Formspring, which for 8th graders is like glazed donuts to a diabetic; irresistible but deadly.  Formspring isn’t like Facebook.  On Formspring, anyone can leave anonymous posts unless you've tweaked your account to prevent it (and most folks don’t know it’s possible).  On Facebook, everyone knows who you are, so haters leave major insults at their own risk, which means, most of the time they don’t bother.

I was first introduced to Formspring by a high school age student we know in Connecticut.  She is a Facebook friend who posts links to her Formspring dialogue regularly.   It is disturbing.  Boys ask for a blow job, and she LOL’s.  Girls call her slut, whore, and douchebag, and she LOL’s that, too.  We mentioned what was going on to her mother and haven’t heard from her mom since. I guess when she said, “Let me know what’s happening online”, she didn’t really mean it.
Formspring Sucks!
Elizabeth is attending 8th grade in a school that is 85 percent Asian.  So, on top of the usual 8th grade dramatics, she takes considerable flack for being white.  Ironically, she NEVER takes any abuse for having two moms.  She’s been accused of trying to act Asian, dress Asian, and taking Asian boys away from Asian girls.  This is a lame insult, if you know Elizabeth.  She is extremely sensitive to any kind of racism, and doesn’t hesitate to get in our faces if even remotely Archie Bunker-like words slip from our lips.  Have you ever been lectured by a 13 year old?

Last night, someone posted a verbal assault on Elizabeth's Formspring profile. By 8th grade standards, it was epic. Elizabeth discovered it just before climbing into bed, and she was devastated.   The hater covered her breasts, her body type, her sense of humor (how she paints a mustache on her finger and holds it under her nose), her standards of friendship, personality, and then capped on her for hanging out with another group of kids who reported hate her now, too.  Of course, she was also accused, once again, of wanting to be and acting like ... yes, you guessed it, an Asian.

Leslie and I went to bed upset.  Eighth grade is hard enough.  The teachers are mean as hell, as if being so was a prerequisite to teaching.  The ones that aren’t mean are lazy.  And a goodly number of them take any opportunity to yell at and insult classroom students.  Hey folks, we realize this hasn’t been a banner year for State of California education, but what made you decide to leave your maturity at the door?  Many of these individuals seem to forget that teaching is more than a job.   Remember, these are the teachers who’ve kept their position when so many others are let go, implying they have tenure or are the cream of the crop.  You would think so, anyhow.

Leslie and I slept on it, and we started our morning as usual.  Despite being recently laid off, I get up early, which is what they say avoids the gaping maw of unemployment depression.  Elizabeth was quiet.  She had to be at school 45 minutes early for detention because she was off sick on Friday, and didn’t get her political cartoon assignment.  Whatever.   See what I’m saying about mean? 

Well, we are certain we know who the hater is.  This girl, an Asian girl, hung out with Elizabeth for two years before blossoming (and bludgeoning) hormones and other girly shit split them up.  My guess is that when they split, Elizabeth was supposed to go crawling back, and one might say she did the first time they had a problem.  She opted to be the bigger person and broke the ice.  The second time, however, Elizabeth had enough, opted in favor of her self-esteem, and found new friends.

I am personally very familiar with this hater’s M.O.  I was the buck-toothed, red-head fifth grader who got her ass kicked regularly after school.  Girls in 7th grade handed me notes about how ugly I was and how I smelled bad.  I had a girlfriend in school, and she did the same thing to me.  She had an expectation of my behavior when we argued and when I didn’t comply, she let me have it.  I know all about it, but I didn’t have supportive parents backing me up.

Elizabeth does have supportive parents, and when I spoke to the school principal today he was very concerned.  We’re going to deal with this assertively.

It’s not okay for anyone to pick on our little girl.

Watch out, haters.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

10 Seconds in Heaven: A Bunny Tail (I mean, tale)

Dis bunny iz not happy
(photo by Liz)
I managed to avoid going on a "bunny reconnaissance mission" with Elizabeth last night. She is determined to stage a coup and rescue the rabbit we caught Sunday from its careless owners. It is, indeed, very cute, and yes, the way its owners are treating it is borderline negligence ... but I don't want any bunnies. We did the bunny thing already when Elizabeth was in kindergarten.

In 2001, we had two bunnies. First there was the boy, Clever Rabbit Nibbles, who was very sweet. He was a brown sort of color, and had a lovely disposition. Then, we got Miss Lucille, who was black and white and named after the teacher Elizabeth had at Montessori pre-K. This bunny wasn't so sweet. She started out sweet, but she also used to run around the living room chewing on things until she happened upon some electrical wires and nearly electrocuted herself. After that she wasn't so nice. Have you ever heard a bunny snarl? It's a scary thing.

We kept Clever and Miss Lucille on the back lanai in South City. It was sort of an outdoor living space off the third bedroom and very lovely. They each had their own extremely roomy cage, and despite our veterinarian's many warnings about leaving two bunnies of the opposite sex together for any length of time, we did ... once ... when I was cleaning cages. It took Clever only moments to realize there was no barrier between he and his beloved, and so he and Miss Lucille had their 10 seconds in heaven, which is all the time it takes for bunnies. The female bunny or doe ovulates on command at any time. It's not like a dog. An un-neutered female dog will go into heat once every six months if you're lucky and, as a responsible owner; all you must do is keep her off the streets and in a diaper. A doe, on the other hand, drops an egg any time a buck smiles at her. In about three weeks we had three more bunnies.

Elizabeth and Miss Lucille,
the snarly doe
Miss Lucille had three of the sweetest little babies, and she hid them for the longest time. This is what rabbits do in the wild. They go to great lengths to hide their new born babies, who at birth are naked, blind, squeeling little cheeze doodles. Elizabeth called me at work one day so excited about seeing them finally. And they really were the cutest things you ever did see. So, then I had five rabbits to clean up after, until they got too big to house any longer.

We managed to find homes for each of the babies. Domino went to a store, Vanilla went to a third grader from where Elizabeth was going to school. The third one, Clever Jr., went to a private home, as well. Then, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to find homes for Clever and Miss Lucille, because having so many rabbit cages on the lanai with all that tasty rabbit food started attracting other critters ... ew.

We were ready to be done with the rabbits for a time, I think. But it was very fun, and we got some outstanding photographic moments out of it. I have the most beautiful picture of Elizabeth with the babies in a basket, but for the life of me I can't find it.

Now, we've got rats ... er, ratties, as they're called. But they're both female.  No worries there.

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