Thursday, April 19, 2018

Productivity, thy name is... Espresso

It happened!

Before I got all my stitches removed, I hauled my butt over to-

even more warm weather, sunshine, palm trees, ocean, and Spanish. 

I took my DFSP adventure time all the way to Miami, Fla. 

We time traveled twice over: moving three hours ahead plus an hour for daylight savings time. 
So during that first week, I was simply feeling magical! -as said with a great amount of sarcasm.

I didn't know how quickly I would feel ready for doing anything.
Before this trip, I was barely recovered of the vampiric drain on my life force from two weeks of- oh hey, I have an open hole in my chest! 

(None of you are ready to see those pictures.) 

It took so long to get closed up because I don't live close to decent labs. They needed time to ship samples out and run detailed tests. And I had to get cut twice. In the first procedure they made a 6x7cm hole. In the second procedure they took out everything down to the muscle. Just to be certain there were no more defective cells left in the area. 

FYI: We are all pretty certain I am free of this cancer.

When I got my graft installed, they also sewed something on to me. 
They called it a cap. 
I called it my reward for opening a puzzle box.

(Go watch a Hellraiser movie to learn more about this important pop culture reference.) 

This cap took tension off the graft stitches and held it down/in place. A completely new realm of discomfort was opened up to me. As you can imagine, I was very happy to have that thing clipped off.

The cap experience still wasn't as bad as the wound cleaning experience. That was the highest level of pain I think I'd ever experienced in my life.

I wanted to do more than just convalesce on the trip. It was, after all, an artist residency wherein artists create new work and network. Technically, it wasn't my residency, but I didn't want to be a glum lump trailing behind. 

Spurred by the adrenaline of being in new environments and meeting new people, I was able to keep up. Mostly.

Coffee. Espresso. Helped. A lot.

We were tickled to find a moka pot in our apartment's kitchen. We used to have one in Williamsburg, you see.

Guess what souvenir came back to Rosarito with us?! No, no. We didn't steal it. We bought our own! Because moka pots are not common out west for some reason?

(Now I can sit here for hours driving myself crazy tweaking this post while sipping a double espresso!) 

Our apartment, a spartan, little place, perfect for an artist residency, was located in Wynwood.
It's a neighborhood hiding under extensive (excessive?) amounts of graffiti murals and street art.
Everything hip is located in Wynwood. Like 16oz juice blends that cost 10+usd.

Above & Beyond: Common Grounds Miami electronic dance music festival was located in Wynwood. 
Yes, we attended such a thing. Wearing ear plugs.
I was very disinclined to dance. After three dj stumbling through the same format of soundbites, enough was enough. The dude-bros' sets really sucked rude objects. 

Apparently, there is a prescribed mode of festival dress you must wear when you attend an edm festival. It looked like all the pictures of Burning Man with a sprinkle of Coachella except 200% less glamorous and/or inventive. I saw bandanas worn over faces. Were they expecting a sandstorm? 

Yes, music festivals really happened just across the street. Yes, I lost a lot of sleep to two weekends of beats. There was also a loud, bright and early Sunday morning Christian youth event that added insult to injury after the previous night's revelries cleared out in the wee hours.  

One evening was truly unbearable. The concert was pretty good, but the sound systems in the cars that parked nearby almost killed us. The overlapping bass lines rattled the walls and our brains. Bros all wanted to hang out and show off their systems or whatever. Ugh.

Interestingly, a security detail was assigned to stand watch over the residency apartment building through those long, noisy nights.  

Zak the Baker is located in Wynwood. I wanted to work there when I saw how much fun everyone was allowed to have. It was the happiest bakery I'd ever been in.

I could walk up a few blocks and see several large scale Anselm Kiefer installations in the Margulies Collection at The Warehouse. Because it's located in Wynwood. I really, really enjoyed his work in that space.

The doctor told me that I would be able to take out my remaining stitches within the second week of the trip. 
My stitches were left in Wynwood. Are they hip?

During my stay in Miami, my strength increased from not being able to carry my own bag to doing a little, silly improv movement at the studio space three weeks later. Here's an edit of it. 

this is the first edit of video i took of myself during my last night at the MANA Miami artist residency at 777 International Mall. audio provided by local artists. 
palm tree created out of junked fiberglass boats during the residency by Chicago based creative agency & production house, Ava Grey Designs.

Junk writing aside, much of the residency I spent the time sketching in a blank book that says SKETCH on the cover. 

(Hey, I was just doing what it told me to do.)

It had been a while since I'd felt the freedom to just sketch. No pressure... Pencil... Everything erasable... My mind wandered in and around the healing process. A bit Frida-ish of me, but whatever. I came up with some kinda funny/poetic/quirky ideas.

The Human put more presentable, finished ideas all over the walls of his space on the second floor of this shopping mall turned artist studio spaces.

On the first floor there was a room set up to screen Tijuana Bible no.1 and then also a couple of In Memoriams. It was the first time we had seen the videos en large in a focused context. It gave us good ideas for a future project. 

I met artists from Chicago also in the residency: ErinJan, and a couple of the guys from Ava Grey, Cesar (sp?) and Nick. 

From the studio's location we could walk to a Whole Foods where I ate as many purple fruits and veggies as I could find at the salad bar. Purple. Instinctively I went to the deep colored foods. To match the graft on my chest, I suppose. At the time it was a bruise colored patch. 

That patch looks more like a blaster mark now. 

I miss those purple salads.

Fueled with Cuban coffee, we walked as much as possible. The city is in building mode. Expansive empty lots dot the city scape. Tall buildings at every stage of construction loomed here and there. Modern's the name of the game. Or rather, it's just that other M word- money.  

It might be quite the international hub,  but Miami isn't my kind of vibe at the moment. For me to live there I'd need a good reason. A really good reason.

If you love people and people watching, I recommend paying a visit. Just don't love the people too much. Posters are everywhere warning about the dangers of syphilis.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

test results are in - one in a million, kid

Ask me what I did in 2017. 

I can tell you that I got a big raise. I can say I was on international TV. I took trips to New Orleans and Montreal, Canada. I spent some time in L.A. I performed on stages. I made stop motion videos shown in an art gallery... 

I can also say that my body was artistic all on it's own. It grew a tumor.

This thing appeared overnight in February. It itched occasionally. It was something I could actually feel change inside my skin. For a little while I even thought it might be a parasite. 

Since It was located on my chest I, naturally, went to have it checked out at a 'boob clinic.' 

The woman who 'saw' me went on to make backhanded insinuations that I was overreacting. I guess, to her,  I was just behaving like so many hysterical women who come running into the clinic and waste time fussing with every little thing. Because they read too much on the Internet. 

Yeah. This superficial lump here on my chest is no reason for alarm. It's just, oh, you know, a cystic zit. I must be too stupid to tell the difference between a pimple and something- -else.

To my further irritation, she was insistent that I come back and have my lady bits examined- because that is so important right now.

I fumed at her inside my skull: I have a growth on my chest, you unqualified bint. If this ugly thing popped up on your body, I bet you would be in a medical facility ASAP wasting someone's time about it. 

And you would not want some knob recommending pointless examinations and procedures to you when you specifically have an obvious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. 
(Nope.  Not gonna apologize for the wordiness of that sentence.)

After such disparagement, I did NOT go back there to have my lady bits poked and peered at.

What I did was shove my panic down. Way down. For months. Didn't think about it. Didn't focus on it. The things is, it didn't go away. 

In December I was able to see a dermatologist. When the doctor checked me out, everything in her demeanor seemed to be frowning at this lump. I could tell it was something she didn't have an easy answer for. She took a core sample and sent it off to Mexico City for a biopsy.

My early Christmas present was a biopsy!

And they sure took their sweet ass time with the test(s). The results were relayed to me (FINALLY!) on 22 January, 2018.

CD34 Positivo focal. Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.

Note carefully how it says sarcoma in that big, long word?
In the layman's terms it translates to 'ridiculously, rare skin cancer.'

I have a skin cancer.

Fortunately, as far as those hopelessly pointless growths go, this is a lame one. The percentage of it developing  a mean streak is pretty low. Though there is a chance, it's not like I am compelled to 'get my affairs in order' or anything like that. Not yet.

And so first of all I'd just like to send a massive, rabid, flying f*** y** to the perra at the Chula Vista 'boob clinic.' You proved to be an utter boob yourself.

I am actively taking steps to meet with another, more capable doctor in Tijuana. I will have this thing cut out of me as soon as possible. When ever soon turns out to be. I was recommended to someone who is insanely busy.

I am open to other recommendations so I have a back up plan if this doctor can't come through!

The surgery shouldn't be a massive procedure, but it has to be thorough. There will be more tests and some treatments depending on how it all goes.

I expect follow-ups on this for the rest of my current life as well.
Oh, and a scar.

With this condition, there is one case per million per year.

Go ahead. Lean in. Softly whisper to me that I am one in a million.

I'll blush and giggle and say, "I know."

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Feet, New Year

Put your best foot forward. 

That would be my left one. Yeah. I actually know which is my best foot...  

I had hoped December would have been more of a month of reflection. It's just been another month of tackling challenges. 

I've started in early on a resolution to have pretty, princessy feet for next year. 
So it's twice daily foot spa and once daily pills. Crazy strong pills. No alcohol and no other medications for me!

I will be missing out on a New Years Eve toast, but what is that compared to having presentable, non... non- contagious, healthy toes?

This month also brought me inconclusive lack of news. 

I am still waiting on some medical test results. Sending samples off to the lab before the holidays is never a good idea. Two weeks crawls into three. They should have just told me I wouldn't have results in hand until next year, but that sounds like a long way off, right? 

December gave me some design work. It's been a little stressful, but the work hasn't interfered with any grand plans. I mean, I didn't exactly make any. There is another timeline where I organized an underground, shamanistic rave in TJ... but you know... I'm not in that timeline... so... 

I am grateful for the work.  It's creative! It's income! Yay!

And then there is the challenge of my ever lovin' female cycle. For a second month, my body completely dropped it's immune defenses and let me get sick.  It. Let. Me.  Just me! No one else became ill! 

Two months in a row I've fought off fevers. After Thanksgiving I got a case of food poisoning. Then Christmas day I was in bed with a cold/flu/whatever. Bones, joints, skin- all hurting -again. And because I started this liver destroying regiment, I could not take anything to diminish the pain or the histamine response. I'm still coughing the rest of it out of my system.  Bless the cold months, eh? 

At least I've got a head start on a resolution. 
I want my new feet to walk me more confidently into the new year.  
I feel optimistic about it. 

What do you feel optimistic about heading into 2018?


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Scintillating Awe

{photo: google search- scintillate events}

Are you ready to welcome the longest night (northern hemisphere) / day (southern hemisphere)?
It's December 21st, if you've been confused by the rest of the holidays during this general time of year.
I know, there are several to keep track of.

What ever you are celebrating this season do it with gusto. There's this Spanish guy called Al.. Al Gusto..
It's a bilingual pun... # sorry not sorry

And so while you and Al Gusto get along famously, I would like to also wish everyone awe.

At least one moment of it. Some awe.  Yes. Awesome.

Be in awe that you have lived in your body long enough to witness such times-
Such injustice.
Such brilliance.
Such mediocrity.
Such loss.
Such exuberant joy - (Because there was that one time... Remember it?)

Look at those around you with a sense of awe.

Remember those who came before and those who traveled ahead of you with awe.
Be in awe of knowing they are not gone for the hints of them left with you. 

Be in awe of your slow steps and setbacks along your path.
Be in awe of how much work you put in and how it paid off in ways you couldn't have imagined.

Be in awe of the dark spots that work to highlight the glitter bits, and vice versa.

To sparkle means to fluctuate between light and dark.
Reality scintillates. So do you.


Friday, November 10, 2017

New Orleans: Working & Vacationing-ish

{outside of Tipitina's there was this communal work of art:
a staple and flyer encrusted telephone pole}
I am still processing what I experienced in New Orleans. And I'm jet / time change - lagged. So I'm not really processing. I'm just tired and coffee compensation is giving me a headache. Maybe I am trying not to get a cold.

Hugo and I were in New Orleans for one week (only one week!) and it was the best trip we could have hoped for: the city was celebrating Halloween, the weather was like New England summer time, food and drink were deliciously bountiful, rest was attainable, music was everywhere, and yes one could get their work done.

I am so thankful that the Mexican consulate was able to arrange for us to stay at the Joan Mitchel Center. This is a note for artists especially: Check this place out! If you find a way to utilized this space, do so! It is a piece of artist heaven in the middle of Treme. My mouth was hanging open just a bit when we shown around for the first time. I'm an artist used to just having to make do. I mean I've slept in vans, on floors, and atop flat file cabinets. Here we had a pool and longer term residents got their own private studio to work in. There was a huge kitchen (the chef's studio space) and a communal kitchen. The grounds were kept up nicely... dinner was at 7pm... 
And the folks at the consulate AND the gallery people! Just- Wow. I'm bowled over with their generosity. Muy, muy buen onda. 

{Hugo went to art heaven}
Hugo and I were both nervous coming to a new city to show a type of work we'd never dealt with before, but once things got going our concerns quickly dissipated when we figured out what we were doing.

{Pablo's work station}

Most of my time was spent playing a very unofficial second shooter for a professional photographer {insta} documenting Hugo {instaface} doing his mural painting thing. I was by no means bored. Between Hugo painting, the consulate staff going about their business, the photographer doing his thing, the woman painting the walls, the men installing lights, and of course, fellow hard-working artist Pablo Rasgado {insta, face} knocking holes in a wall- I was plenty engaged.

{two unnamed cherubs illuminating the consulate gallery}

Long hours were definitely put in, but there enough leisure time to balance it out. Our consulate hosts would take us out for lunch or dinner at some quality places.

It was amusing to watch people eat food. They would revel in the pleasure of taste, practically dancing in their seats with delight. They say when you move to the city you can easily gain 20lbs in the first month or so if you are not mindful.

At one such dinner, without even knowing what the official local drink was in Nola, I ordered it from the menu. One Sazerac and I was good for the night. To have more than one of those in less than 4 hours is stupid. I'm not that stupid. More appealing than the meh flavor, the drink has a jovial kick to it. At least I felt rather merry and energetic with it's effects on me.

We were shown around the Frenchmen St. area by a Frenchman for Halloween. He was a riot dressed as Ace Ventura in a tutu and motorcycle boots- the ones you can't really walk in. That night was probably the best bit of bar hopping a non bar hopper could do. It was Halloween night and just about everyone had some kind of costume going on. The dancing and carousing and  general carrying on was rather good natured. I blended into the masses of freaks as some kind of Barbe-bleue. It was a perfect costume for a old French port town. And a crochet beard is easy to pack! Thank you Irena! Your beard was a hit! An itchy, itchy hit! 😁

{a successful opening}

We survived the group show opening. We survived New Orleans - and there are already plans in the works to return!

So it looks like Papa Legba can help a white woman out after all. Next time I'll try to sit down and have some black coffee with him. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

the very end of the parade

I thought the parade was done and over. I had gone inside to charge my camera battery. But then my ears heard more noise. I dashed out again with my mobile and caught some video.

I cracked up my friends by describing the style of Mexican music you can hear in the video like all the musical compositions and arrangements are constantly tripping and stumbling over themselves, all over the place. It is like listening to a pack of clowns. Or maybe I've just grown up watching too many cartoons.

(Also note: Banda tuba is the sexiest, most romantic tuba you will ever hear. 😆)

If you look really, really closely at the second video you can see a line of cowboy hats in the distance heading onto a side street. I bet they were all going to go ride on the beach! How much more craziness would that have been?!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

yep, es septiembre. de nuevo.

Yeah, yeah the independence day parade got me all excited. I was not planning to take pictures whatsoever, but then I found myself fumbling for my camera as the trumpets started blaring.

Who would be able to concentrate on anything else will all that racket any way?

I bounded out the door like a five year old.

To try and capture the larger scope of the event is generally stupid, so I worked more with the zoom function to see what smaller moments I could catch. Lucky for me, I didn't need a tripod when I had a metal gate to steady my little camera. Stuck behind that gate, I chose to work with that limited perspective. It yields interesting results when you don't muscle your way in to get that 'perfect' shot.

I tried being quick about taking shots but the camera was not as fast as the action. And I would have lost time finding the right settings. This was another limitation I had to work with.

All in all, I feel happy with the results. It was good to take the opportunity to play at being a photographer.