Monday, August 5, 2013

Part 2 of the story of my time caring for Marina, Sonia, Micah, and our time with Daniel (part one below, scroll down)


         The question begs, why did I do it, aside from the fact that Marina was my friend who had been stricken with an illness that was seen by me, was seen by most in those days as a death sentence. I remember how I felt. It is hard to recall exactly how my mind was working then, I was a different person then than I am now, I was very much more a meditator, a yogini, a practitioner of the spiritual arts, as much as I was a visual artist. The fervor of the young on a mission is not to be underestimated.  And...it is also true that I was braver then, maybe to a degree or two numb to many things, I just knew the pain of a friend dying, a young woman, I was a young woman. I believed in those days. I was growing, and so was my work. My practice was growing. I believed that I must help my friend. I believed that since no one else had stepped forward, it was up to me. Penelope had been living with Marina. Penelope had done what I was about to embark on. Penelope was burnt out. Let it not be underestimated, the burn-out factor in caring for the dying. Penelope had gone in as I was about to, idealistic, benevolent, she had gone in only wishing to help. There were also at the time two best friends of Marina, Vi, and Ana. Ana and Vi were faithful and true friends, bringing home-made foods, and their joyous company to help Marina face the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the most tragic any young woman, a mother of two young children should ever have to face in life. To say it was unfair, and that both Penelope and I felt the injustice of such a sentence from nature, or God, or all the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, the Universe, or a strange biological arc peculiar to Marina, would be not saying anything close to it.




        Penelope told me as I was going in, as she was going out that it would not be easy. I said I know. She tried to warn me, and she didn’t have the words for what Marina was going through and what Marina had subjected Penelope to, and what Marina would surely subject me to. I said I know, but I did not know. I intuited, I empathized. I knew, but I did not know.

        There were Vi, and Ana, there would be Daniel along the way until the end, his visits. There were others of our circle, sporadically they brought soups, baked goods, puddings, casseroles. But mostly it was Marina, her two children Sonia, and Micah, and there was me to care for them all. 


        It is strange how writing this decades later, I break down. Is it catharsis, when it is not art but remembrance... not the experience of another, but my own history...my history with my friend, Marina. I am so surprised at my own reaction to this writing now. All these years later...I feel my heart breaking all over again, and I continue, the tears stream, the streaming tears take me by surprise on a journey up a river of tears, cascading confluence.

        Is it because I just had a brush with the fear of cancer myself, painful testing, given the clear by my doctor, but nonetheless the passage of the fear through body and soul reminds that death stalks us all. No. It is that Marina was too young. She should be alive in the world now. Marina was young, and vibrant, she was beautiful up to the very end. Dark lustrous hair, perfect skin, coloring of the most delicate flower hues, high cheekbones, sparkling blue eyes...I almost did not remember the color of her eyes just now as I wrote, they were blue...


        I drew her. One drawing I could not find to photograph for this piece, I remembered had gone into a collaged painting. I sold it, the drawing is...wait...that is not the one, the artists job of remembering where the work is/went...is never done. Mostly  I never give it  much thought until I need to know where it is, to show it, to show something. Beauty of a dying young woman...


        I am there again, my heart breaks. Let no one tell me it is a passing. that the body dies, but the spirit goes on. That nothing dies. We do not know. We do not understand the mystery. I accept that I do not understand, even while the spirit within my own blood, bone, and internal miracle of life called a body cries out in horrified rebellion against the tragedy we call life and death. This is what it was about for me then, what I believe from talking with Penelope then and remembering now, Penelope, the first caretaker of Marina. It was the same for her, too. It is why I had to go to Marina, I am using a pseudonym, and each time I write her name not real, my soul is mourning all over again, my soul cries out the real name........Mirrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaa.........Mira.


 Looking for the drawing I ran across these words in a sketchbook from then after going back to study art at University:

'I began a self-portrait as a mermaid last week, and for several days the face in the portrait was blank. Empty. Then one day I spent hours on the face alone, and as I stepped back to examine the painting I saw that I had painted the face of Mira. At first I tried hard not to see her face in the painting, angered that in the end this seeing could not be avoided, I at last acknowledged the fear and a certain self-loathing that this feeling inspired in me. It was not merely the face of Mira---nor the fact that I had unconsciously recreated the face, but that I had painted her face onto a self-portrait that so disturbed me. In the end I obliterated the face, and made something less personal and more expressionistic of it. So in a certain sense I once again hid from me, hid me from the world. I was though forced to examine some feelings still quite vivid about Mira, and the time I spent caring for her during her illness, and before her death. There are moments, unavoidable, and certainly unpremeditated moments when the thought of Mira will suddenly send pain rushing through my gut and heart and I will find myself wondering again, as if for the first time, what that time was about, and why I was the one so closely involved in the tragedy of a young woman's life gradually slipping away. I was not her relative, not her close friend, nor did she particularly like me. One could say I was her servant, her caretaker, but that relationship too is altered by the fact that we had known one another and been on friendly terms for years prior to her illness. That I looked on my various duties as a service, rather than a job. A vehicle for self-exploration, a spiritual calling. That I became so very personally involved with her immediate family, care of her children, her twelve-year-old daughter a mess...'

There is more, this is the heart of it.





 I will return to this. Part 3 next time, the details.

        

Monday, July 29, 2013

Marina, Sonia, Micah, Daniel, and Me, Part 1, the Backdrop of the Story of Caring at Home for my Friend

       It is has long been begging to be told, and so I tell it after such a long time waiting in the wings, this story.
       I remember the first time I met Daniel, he was one of those. I was barely twenty, Ashtanga  Yoga had just begun. My first retreat, our teacher Babaji's name, and Kurt's name will be the only ones unchanged by me for this story.

Ashtanga means eight-limbed. The limbs are:
1) Withdrawal of the mind from the senses,
2) Concentration,
3) Meditation,
4) Hatha Yoga (the postures, mostly named for animals),
5) Truth,
6) Right livelihood (work),
7) Harmlessness,
8)Karma Yoga, or selfless service.

The last was and is always stressed by our teacher, Baba Hari Das, who also always modeled the concept and ideal of dispassion.

       The first time I encountered Daniel, he was playing an autoharp, singing one of his songs in his angelic tenor voice, something along the lines of..." I've fallen down a deep dark well/ Some call it earth, some call it hell...," or was it, "Mama give the baby suck/You are the universe to him..."...?


       He made us all laugh, all the time he wasn't playing his music. I danced on the hill as he played outside the main hall at the Yoga retreat up Bear Creek Rd., that first time. My hair and skirt were long, and his smile was so sweet. We all loved Daniel, the original Krishna to all of us Gopis. It is important to stress in this because of how important he was to Marina all along and at the end. I was there at her constant service, he is the reason she died happier than she would have.

       I met Marina through Daniel, both were 28.  Her young children were, the older girl, Sonia, and the younger boy, Micah.  Marina publicized Daniel's concerts, served him faithfully. I would visit her, she came to the house on Pine street. I enjoyed her stories of picking up guys at The Catalyst, a Santa Cruz fixture then, and as far as I know, to this day. Many famous acts passed through, to play at The Catalyst. I was in awe of both her and Daniel, Daniel who made us laugh all the time. He had a talent for it.  Later, he was at Marina's house often, making us both laugh as I massaged her body head to toe nightly. 10:00 PM, was when the show she loved to watch nightly finished...Dallas.Was it re-runs, or was the show really on nightly...? I don't recall. I never watched it, I was concentrated on the massage, and the laughter.

       A few years went by, I studied art and Early Childhood Development and Education. I had moved into a 'Yoga house' with Daniel and others at 22. So many stories on the way to this story to be considered, then discarded for this post. There is art to brevity, I strive for it in all I write. But at the house on Pine street with Daniel, and the others, Marina was always in the background, always a part of things. That house is where Kurt died. Actually he died at Big Sur. Kurt was found at the bottom of a cliff in Big Sur. I loved Kurt, and his story will be told another time, this is Marina's story...Kurt is in the backdrop of my life, always.


      As far back as I remember, life in California has always been that of real estate changing hands and too many evictions, or, simply forced movings. I have never wanted to move from any place where I have lived. The house at Pine St. was sold...I moved.


       A few years later while living at Janet's house on Chestnut St., I was in school studying art at University of California at Santa Cruz. I was now 25. Marina lived across the high school next door to where I lived, around the bend, she was a neighbor, visits were fairly frequent. Her friend Ana gave me a ride home from play rehearsal one night, we put on the Ramayana every year. As we pulled up to the house she told me she had had a grueling day... somehow after deliberation, she had decided to tell me. Marina and she had been to the doctor's office. Marina had been informed at age thirty-one... that she had Leukemia, had been crying all day in Ana's arms. We did not talk in those days about 'Oncologists,' 'stages,' or 'treatments,' or 'bone marrow transplants,' which did come up later, the idea was feared and rejected by Marina. I knew from the fact that in elementary school, Elliot had died of it, that my mother's friend, Ellie had died of it, another family friends with my parents had lost a daughter to it, I only knew in the moment I was given this news about my friend Marina, that it was a death sentence. How young we all were.
        I put my head down on the dashboard, and I began to wail. I sobbed right there, even after Ana went into the house. I could not stop crying for hours, head on arms folded beneath my face.

       Once, at about six or seven, I had listened as my parents talked of my aunt Muriel, who had recently died of cancer. Very curious to learn about the world always, I asked questions. When I learned that cancer is a painful illness that always ends in death...those days...how my parents talked to me...we were all little adults in that house. That night, as I lay sleeping in bed with my father...frequent nightmares, terror in the night, I sought refuge with the very source, both of my parents. I awoke with a painful stiff neck, certain I had cancer. I was unable to move my head. I cried, I still recall the puddle of tears on the pillow, I was almost literally drowning in my own tears as I cried silently, not to awaken my father, or my mother in the other bed. My father heard me  though, awoke, turned on lights, carried me to my mothers bed, and they asked me why I was crying by now uncontrollably in the night. I told them I thought I had cancer, I told them of the pain and stiffness in my neck. They told me I had a stiff neck. I was told not to get in bed with my father any more. He got into bed with me after that, whenever my mother kicked him out for snoring. Nothing untoward, as my friend from England delicately says, my parents strictly adhered to corporal punishment, there was no sexual abuse. I slept that night with my mother.


       Janet's husband Ricardo came out to the car, and got me to come into the house. I visited Marina many times before it was announced to at least a hundred of us by our teacher that Marina needed a caretaker. Would any of us volunteer to go live with her, help her in her steadily declining condition? No one came forward. Not one voice, not one person in the large gathering was willing. Minutes went by, I thought my heart would break, while no one said a word. I was in school studying art, U.C. Santa Cruz, I was twenty-five. I announced, firmly for the whole group to hear (and truly how shy I was in those days, so out of character)...before the whole group, I said that I would go live with Marina, I would care for her. I dropped out of school, not knowing for how long, not knowing what my duties would entail.

      I voluntarily entered into a time of darkness, the underworld of caregiving, which is how it felt to me then. My thoughts were of Marina, I wanted to give her palliative care, without knowing that terminology at the time. Her house, her children, her meals, rice pudding which she constantly craved, and her nightly massages became my duties for six months.


Part 2, the details, next entry.






Sunday, July 21, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Photoshop Elements


 So...I am watching Sergio Leone’s Once upon a Time in the West... well sporadically, off and on throughout my day. As of this writing There is still an hour of it left to see, streaming on Netflix. 
        I am watching because to be certain, it is great filmmaking. I am watching off and on because, it is slow ponderous filmmaking about people quick on the draw, and foul of temperament. Hair-trigger folk difficult for me to like much, and the much suffering woman at the center of the story of. Cinematic miracle, this classic Spaghetti Western made by Leone in Italy and based on a story by Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento is about our American west. Like so many male-centered stories of factions struggling to wrest control of their world at gunpoint...for me a bit like watching fingernails scratching the length of a long chalkboard, feels that natural and real, but that slow, even more nerve-wracking. Harsh, but I do not really want to know most of these people even in film fiction, don’t care about them, they are violent power-mongers, people who hold no interest for me. Too real. It is reminding me of other films, particularly Once upon a Time in America.


          Meanwhile, this meandering post is really on a wholly different topic, Leone’s films are a ruse. I am really here on the topic of Photoshop Elements, the supposedly much simpler, and def much less expensive version of Photoshop...back to that momentarily. 

         I was watching Once Upon a Time, and searching connections between the two Once Upon a Times, and discovering that both Once Upon a Times were indeed both films made by Sergio Leone, The West, and America. I had experienced exactly the same feelings when watching what must have been the american release of Once Upon a Time in America, and caught up in my world then, had gone to see it , was then scarcely interested or very aware of who had made this particular film, at that time a wish to escape was pervading life in general. 

        In between and as break from working in Photoshop...which is grueling in other ways. But I am learning, and as I learn I discover...three times now, twice gut-wrenching loss of digital life, precious hours and vision gunned down mercilessly for no reason in Photoshop Elements. Once it did not matter, it was a barely existing beginning, lost I cannot fathom why, barely off the ground, that little birdie was. Sudden violent death of my work in the program is random, it seems.
        Twice it happened after long laborious multi-layering work produced from the depths of my soul of souls...just as I am saving the work the program crashes, and poof, my long hours of work are gone, this time against the backdrop of a shoot-‘em-up of epic proportions, Once Upon a Time in the West. Close up and intimate knowledge in film of those to be avoided in life can perplex, sometimes feels to me more warrented. 

         Instantaneously lost to this world my work is, as if gunned down by a sharpshooter---that fast---a speeding bullet. So I search the question in my aching heart for an answer, ‘why does photoshop elements for apple crash just as I’m saving hours of art?’ i google. Something very close to that, and comes to me this answer at a list-serve,


“That is a well known bug in Apple's QuickDraw code, which Apple has said that they will not be fixing because they have deprecated QuickDraw.

In some cases, turning off GPU switching in the system preferences can avoid or at least reduce the occurrence of the bug.
But the only way to really avoid it is to update to a version of the software that uses the Cocoa APIs and not the Carbon/QuickDraw APIs.

Sorry I don't have better news.”



‘QuickDraw code?’ Really? That language is so very strangely coincidental as to seem much more synchronistic, almost;  the net and I are somehow in poetic sync. 

         So then I search the question, ‘what is the computerese definition of the word, ‘deprecated?’ Because I know the definition of the word in the English language, just...what’s it doing in this answer to my question?

“In dictionaries, deprecated is a term used to indicate a pronunciation or usage that is acknowledged but discouraged. In computer programming, a deprecated language entity is one that is tolerated or supported but not recommended. For example, a number of elements and attributes are deprecated in HTML 4.0 , meaning that other means of accomplishing the task are preferred. Deprecated features may become obsolete in future versions of HTML, though browsers that support the features may continue to support them. In the Java programming language, a particular method may be deprecated for a given class of object s.”


         I will continue to ponder the sadness attendant loss of work when that loss is beyond my own agency, my decision, my choice.  Ponder, and who knows? Maybe even fix. With a little tech help, that is.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

RIP My Dear Friend Barry 1954-2013

       Barry Ress was my friend of more than twenty years. He recently died, and I miss him so. There is little to be said of the loss of a great friend such as Barry was. He was a staunch supporter of me, my art, and I was the same to him.

       I will miss you, and you are in my heart always. I see you now, wherever I go. There are Barrys everywhere. One day a duck followed me around the lake where I walk, and it was you, sweet friend Barry. I spoke internally to your spirit in the form of this duck about how I miss and love you as you followed me. I think you may have been looking for food, and that too is how I think of you, the many wonderful meals we shared...the theater, the movies, the celebration of life. RIP
Love from Chandra to you Barry x



Monday, May 6, 2013

Gap, JC Penny, Levi Strausse, Walmart, all guilty. Spread the word, name names SHAME THEIR BOTTOM LINE, SHAME THEIR NAMES!


GAP, LEVI STRAUSSE, JC PENNEY, DISNEY, WALMART and others all have blood on their hands. DISNEY....yes, DISNEY has blood on it's hands. Aren't U.S. corporations treated legally as persons, with all rights attending...? Disney, Gap, Levi Strausse, JC Penney, and Walmart must be held accountable...as persons I guess. The death toll from the collapsed building at the factory in Bangladesh is nearly 650. Managers herded workers back into the death trap to meet deadlines imposed by U.S. manufacturers demanding against a "dead" line. JC Penny, Gap, Walmart, and Levi Strausse are all companies with blood on their hands. Facebook, tweet, and blog the names of Levi Strausse, Gap, and Walmart, JC Penney. Yes, that's right...Walmart, Levi Strausse, and Gap.

A worker should not have to choose between putting food on the table, or being safe from explosion, building collapse, or fire.

The labor movement has been regressed back into the nineteenth century and centuries before, by U.S. and other "industrialized" nations doing business SHAMEFUL practice.

It is not only cheapest and least expensive clothing provided for our convenience, luxury brands that are of greatest cost are produced in the same ways, in all cases workers are exploited.

If you dig, you can find a few companies not guilty. Dig, tweet, facebook, blog, and more transparency will become more transparant.

Disney announced this week that they will be pulling their brand from Bangladesh manufacturing, where the labor is the cheapest in the world. Too little too late for nearly 650, and their loved ones.

The cost of doing business includes human rights embedded in the U.N. human rights charter.




Friday, March 1, 2013

Rite of Spring




Rite of Spring, time to emerge from the cocoon, and unfurl those butterfly wings...

we are out of February, and although it won't be official until March 20, it is SPRING!

Last night I saw the world premier at SF Ballet of The Rite of Spring.
Composer, Ivor Stravinsky, Choreographer, Yuri Possokov, Principal dancers, Jennifer Stahl--- (standing ovation for her alone), and James Sofranco---perfect foil for Jennifer. He and all the rest beyond sublime.

It is part of Program 3, three separate pieces, w/ MM Dance Company.

Last and middling, Guide to Strange Places, Composer John Adams, Choreographer Ashley Page, was lovely, perfection, I would say, even if a little pastoral for my taste.
Two more performances, March 2, and March 10.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Planet of the Apes, Friday, December 14, 2012




"...Oh my sister, oh Stella...in this dark march toward whatever it is we are approaching, don't, 

don't, don't hang back with the apes." I think that's what Tennessee Williams pleaded to the 

American people through his character Blanche, who was loved by him, completely 

misunderstood by most. Somehow, perhaps somewhat paraphrased, the admonishment to her 

sister by Ms. Dubois comes to mind from the monologue I performed in a college drama class, 

by a playwright most beloved by me, Tennessee Williams.

Was 'apes' the word used by Blanche? I think it was, but I may have it mixed up because of my 

rambling ongoing conversation with my friend. Again the subject of the great classic American 

film comes up, Planet of the Apes. And as I tell my friend that we are living in the planet of the 

apes, 350 million guns already in the hands of the people,  while continuing gun business 

thrives as our government asleep at the wheel drives us off their demented dream of a fiscal 

cliff...


My friend wonders yet again, and I love my friend for his repetition because of truth always 

inherent in it..." Did Charlton Heston even know what Planet of the Apes was about?"...as I 

answer, no, many fine actors haven't a clue. Many do not even read the entire script ahead of 

time. It is one of many reasons why the director is  more important to the making of great or 

good film, because more responsible for the end result than any of the other components of 

the collaboration that filmmaking is, even the writer, more responsible by far for greatness of 

film result than the actor.

So no, we had to wait until his life had passed before we could wrest the gun from the cold 

dead arms of Charlton Heston. The man was wrong, we were able to do it, as he was wrong 

about many things.

I am going to make some chamomile tea, and see if I can go back to sleep as I consider that 

totalitarian regime is the people in my country, that life here in the U.S. is a game of Russian 

Roulette for even the most vulnerable, the most innocent. It is a cruel game imposed by who? 

Any among us, as any among us are potential victims. All of us as we walk, talk, move, and 


even try to sit still, remain stationary while trying to learn in a classroom of first graders. 

Or even those who like my teacher in first grade, Mrs. Martone, who called her little charges "Dear Heart," 

 and allowed each in turn to be honored weekly as "Personality of the Week."






All together now, just before Christmas...




     

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Amygdala









I love my amygdala

admire from the distance

amygdala tells me,

and I listen.

stayawaystayawaystayawaystayaway


Almond-shaped set of neurons

you reside deep in my brain’s

medial temporal lobe.


location, location, location

stayawaystayawaystayawaystayaway


You play a key role

unlock the door of my emotions, but

stayawaystayawaystayawaystayaway

from angry boys.

you form part of my limbic system;

collective name for structures in 

the human brain involving

emotion

motivation,

emotional association with memory.

Both fear and pleasure responses

are linked in you,

across species, your size

correlates with aggressive behavior.

stayawaystayawaystayawaystayaway


You shrink in males that have been castrated,

by more than 30%.

Interesting fact, but I speak

to you who are in me

You, in me do not always function as you should,

you that I don’t fault you for that,

for I know

it is not your choice

that pleasure and pain

often cannot even know 

within you,

which is which,

one dissolves easily 

(in emotional moments)

into the other, 

stayawaystayawaystayawaystayaway

one would laughingly say

there is a groping in the dark,

a blindness, an inability to understand

at times

what’s-what-what-what’s-what-

stayawaystayawaystayawaystayaway


Sometimes that which appears to you quartz clear

diamond bright

Amethyst hued

or carnelian,

may be,

or maybe not be,

may be

murky black but glinting like obsidian,

while all the while beckoning mica 

fools you,

when gold is real.

Problem is

fear of serpentine asbestos chrysotile

with its fibrous crystals

has made its harsh toxicity known,

so in your malfunctioning self you

stayawaystayawaystayawaystayaway

mix it up:

the pleasure and the pain

a frightening witches brew

laughter/tears

attraction/repulsion

hideous beauty bitter sweet ugly

comforting and alienating

always

the dancing revolution 

pleasure and pain.

Desperada,

I love you,

and I know that 

love is what you need.

the closest one to you

I am here to ease 


transitions, transformations

endless shape-shifting trickster

you


who will never be conquered, quelled, comforted 

by

my 

love. 

still, be still,

I am here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Censorship of Art at Facebook Must Not Be Tolerated




























     A disturbing trend is coming to my attention all too frequently of late on facebook. Several of my most talented artist friends are reporting that facebook is allowing its users to report art, and that facebook is responding to these reports by taking down the art. While I realize that I have little or no power to affect and influence facebook in their inane decision to allow this, nevertheless I state boldly that I will not stand by and say nothing. I will not allow this ludicrous practice on parts of both users of facebook, and facebook itself to continue without protest. In that spirit I post what might be my most offensive art at this blog entry, which I will post on facebook. Keep in mind I don't really know which among my works are offensive. I do not set out to make offensive art. Offensive is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder often has an offensive agenda, jealousy is often what is behind any kind of offense.

     There is one here I shocked myself with when I painted it, Adam and Eve at Palisades Park Cliff Above the Pacific Ocean. The two of them have just partaken of massive amounts of fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they have been cast out of the Garden of Eden. They are thinking seriously of committing suicide, their spirits can be seen ghost-like tumbling over the edge of the cliff.
      How I offended myself at the time I painted it, and since when I see photos of it online (including here) was by using garish Disney colors,  and an almost cartoony inyerface style, telling story without benefit of intermediary masking techniques, which are usual for me, and too numerous to expound on here.
      Ambivalent as I am about this painting, people have enjoyed it, remembered it, discussed it, and finally purchased it.

     I post this entry in celebration of Independence Day in the United States. I seek liberation from the petty and mundane forces which seek to mediocritize us all. No to censorship of any art, anywhere!

     The situation is childish, not suited to a society interested in what is best and brightest among its citizenry, namely those practitioners of all of the the arts. We all need to find ways to protest that people seek to undermine artists, and that facebook allows it.

     I have read at the blogs of others that facebook allows the most repugnant vile hate groups to post what they like on pages about subjects which for the purposes of this entry I deem unsuitable for me to address.

     This posting is against censorship. In protest I upload some of my own most offensive images and will post this entry to facebook, along with a call to arms. Blog about this subject. Write to facebook. Post offensive photos from among your artworks. Write about the subject at your status report. Write about it in notes. Call upon others to also protest. We should put our "friends" and facebook on notice that the situation is not one that is in any way tolerable to us.