Something nice for Monday, for a change.
Aimee Valentine (possibly not her real name) at Inkt|art.com asked me if she could interview me, along with others, about life-changing journeys. I said I hadn’t experienced any…I’m not given to journeys of that nature. I didn’t want to let her down, so I sent this one.
See the pyramids along the Nile
Watch the Sunset from a tropical isle
Just remember, darling, all the while,
You belong to me…
Honey, you don’t have to worry about me. An old lover of mine used to joke, “I could spin you around three blocks from home and you’d have no idea where you were.” He famously asked a friend of mine when he was driving her home, “Do you know where you are?” and she retorted hotly, “Of course, do I look like Nicole?”
I have a very short attention span. I have wondered off from school groups entranced by the animals at Brookfield Zoo, from a group studying the ruins at Pompeii and in a bookstore in Tokyo. You can be sure that I will not be the one to find the lost city of Shangri-La or a coral thirty thousand leagues under the sea. That coral will not be named after me. Someone else will have to find it. I don’t do water. I once waited for my husband for hours on a rock a few feet from shore.
I was the lone white woman going to classes at a school on the far south side the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. In addition, my car was out of gas and I had left my money at home. A cab driver directed me to the gas station and a good-hearted attendant put a dollar’s worth of gas in my tank.
I blame it on my left-handedness. I tend to head left no matter what the situation or directions I have been given. If I had been diagnosed with dyslexia, that is if I had been born now instead of then, I would have had special classes and been a astrophysicist instead of a cartoonist. Now that I have been chatting long enough about this propensity to wander off because I’m bored or suddenly want to be alone is because in truth I am only occasionally a social animal, but I have remembered a dicey trip I took by myself, one where I was given no chance to wander off.
My husband and I decided to divorce, not so easy in 1960’s Massachusetts. One had the choice of making up a story of physical abuse or adultery. My husband felt that either testimony would end his career. I, of course didn’t care. I was going to be an artist. Nobody cared about my morals.
First I went to a very cheesy lawyer in town. His waiting room was full of very sad looking Mexican men desperately looking for legal help. I was a welcome sight with my long black hair and 2l year-old skin. He asked me to go into some detail about my husband’s deviant sexual practices. I tried, and in fact I could think of one, but I didn’t think it was really good enough, having to do with high heels, which I think, is probably too common to be grounds for divorce. So I left, feeling abject, soiled and still in need of a divorce. It was recommended that I get a New York lawyer and fly to Mexico where these things were easier.
I flew to El Paso. I was instructed by my lawyer to wait in my room for a call and then rush down to the lobby. The whole adventure seemed to involve a lot of unnecessary rushing. The driver called. He was wearing sunglasses and a camel hair coat. He hustled me into a light colored van, where two other Americans were waiting. One was very nerdy (not yet in fashion) and the other quite an attractive musician, and both were whining about their bitchy wives.
We went across the border. I flashed my passport. We raced over to a government building, sped up and down stairs and through atriums where I was sure I would be gunned down. At last the three of us (yes, as I recall, it was a group divorce) sat in front of a judge, at a desk, not in a courtroom. We signed many beautiful pieces of paper in Spanish and English and they were marked with by the judge with a huge red wax seal.
We were pronounced divorced. The musician asked me to lunch, and I felt it was a totally successful trip. Later, when I read my divorce papers at home, I saw that I wasn’t necessarily a divorced woman. It seemed rather that if I said I was divorced and my husband said we were, no one would question our status. So far they haven’t.
My nephew came to visit me before he married and had a child and a thriving business in Flagstaff building green houses and buildings. He had time to make something just for me.
I asked him if he would transform my hallway which was large and useless into a very tiny studio. He did it by building a curving wall that reached almost up to the ceiling. He built a small closet into that space as well. I have decided to clean out that closet. Here are some of the things I found in that closet: a 4ft LED Christmas tree boxed, with a stand, a shrine with a Buddha and a red pillow with black gloved hands with red-painted nails.
My living room, or at least a small part of it, will be transported to Lill Street Gallery (Chicago) for an exhibit in mid-October (I will let you know the exact date of the opening so you can all be there).
The idea: Carol A. was sitting in my living room when she said, “I would like to be here alone and look at everything you’ve made and collected.” That seemed like a good idea, one that might appeal to others as well, and I called Bruce at Lill Street. If you know Bruce you know what a miracle it was that I reached him and that he appeared with two others in tow and the exhibit was arranged. Any of you who have had an idea for a show, know that it doesn’t happen this way, so it’s all amazing. One of the ways Bruce is unreachable is that he doesn’t listen to the messages on his phone and you have to reach him some other way. “Bruce, I called you three times!” “Oh, I never pick up those messages.”
Nicole called on Thursday to invite me to see a Lille Carre exhibit, a young graphic novelist. She and her friend Sharon picked me up at the office at 4:30, which is right in the midst of rush hour traffic. Why? Because this particular gallery doesn’t open until 4:00. Nicole was in high anxiety mode because of the traffic. The best part of the show was the entryway, a veritable jungle of plants and an adorable wandering cat. The gallery owner lives there with his cat. He turned on all the projectors, and I settled into a bench and gave up all rational thought, just watching images, not even interesting images. My TiVo is broken with the result that almost all the programs recorded are pixelated and unwatchable. I watch Homeland without really seeing it, but the tension is transmitted and I can feel Carrie’s trembling lips and intensity.
Sharon broke the spell by saying, “Let’s go!” I suggested a restaurant and I even knew of parking in the neighborhood. Nicole was sure there would be too many people in the restaurant, just as there were too many people on the road…. Sharon doesn’t eat mushrooms or anything with black pepper. The restaurant was fairly serene, but Sharon had mushrooms in her pasta. She was about to remove them when she decided to look up mushrooms on her iPhone. What a surprise! Mushrooms are full of nutrition! They are a fungus and contain vitamins and antioxidants provided by the host. Sharon ate them and immediately looked delighted and healthy and like a young girl.
Image from: https://wikis.engrade.com/fungicollection/mushrooms01
The two Nicoles are ready for a new adventure. Maybe a really big one. Maybe one in Paris. I have just emailed her my idea about our trip I feel sure we will have to discuss this a bit. She will say, “If I do this, I can never retire.” And I will say, “The truth is no one we know can ever retire.” And then we will go out for lunch.
This is how Nicole responded to my idea to run off to Paris to see the Museum of Everything… .
“That would be an experience. I wonder if it is a permanent installation. I got the impression there were five shows in different places… . Want to go with me see a show by Lilli Carre today around 3:30? It’s near Division and Ashland.”
That wasn’t the response I was hoping for. Dang.
Because Laura Zinger is making a documentary about my life, she interviewed my ex-husband. He called me and we had quite a long conversation considering that he thinks that Liberals are hopelessly gullible and are under the thrall of communism. He feels sort of the same way that Ann Coulter does. We usually talk about cats.
This time he said. “You are really very funny. I don’t remember you being so funny when we were married.” I thought about that for several days.
I think I was in a bad mood for four years because I was married. I don’t think I was cut out to be married. I don’t want to blame him for the bad mood, because after all, if I had been married to someone else I might still have been in a bad mood.
Toots and I decided to forego the dubious pleasures of Black Friday in favor of spending quality time together on the blue armchair in the living room. Note my well-manicured toes in the background.
I got this pedicure at a spa recommended by the brother of a dear friend. I have been there three times and I have never seen another female customer. What do you imagine is going on?
I have this photo of my mother in a frame on my desk in the office. There’s something about that photo. What is it? I also have a photo of myself as a child leaning against my sleeping father. Last week for the first time I realize that my mother found it amusing to pose with my sleeping father and my sleeping uncle, using their corpses like images to frame her smiling face. She must have suggested that I lean against my father who was sleeping on the couch while she took my picture.
I think it’s a form of revenge against my father. She’s teasing him in a way she never could when he was awake. He had a volatile temper. Best to tease a sleeping giant rather than one who could be dangerous.
Two photos is a coincidence. Three is a meme or a trope or a view into my mother’s mind. I wrote about that third photo. Yes, I have it somewhere, and of course I will find it while looking for something else. In the meantime here is the story I wrote about that day.