I’ve had landscaping jobs where we kept track of the stuff we used, to bill the client later. Soil, fertilizers, plants. Now I work in the same place every day and there is no one to bill, so I keep track of what’s still there, while noting what’s gone.
Lately, in my life, I’ve been doing a little of both.
In the past six years, there have been major losses. My Mom. My Grammy. A relationship that lasted ten years and a house full of stuff, gone. A beach property I cherished for twelve years, trailers, trees, and more stuff, gone. The best job I ever had, that raised me and taught me invaluable life lessons, closed down, gone. My friend Regnor, the most playfully disciplined artist I’ve ever met, gone. Holes blown in the world. Now all that’s left are memories and pictures. I can conjure these apparitions up until they haunt me, but they are not available for comment. Which is too bad, as I have some questions for everyone.
What terrible, hateful, stressful times, right now. The old problem of being an artist and feeling things. The horror of that nightclub, young and out dancing on a hot summer night. I try various breathing techniques. Smell the flowers, blow out the candles. I try not to click on stories about majestic gorillas and jaguars getting senselessly shot, never mind the unending stream of people. I break out in tiny, painless maroon constellations of bruises, my spots, sympathy for the big cats. I hold a smaller one close and try to breathe.
There, I did everything I wanted. I went for walks in the enchanted forest, recharging the Wood Nymph batteries, or, if you will, “Forest Bathing” or Shinrin-Yoku. This is a Japanese movement from the ’80s that is said to “engage the senses, maximizing health benefits and being present. Mindfulness is open to all.”
Is it wrong to rejoice? Inventory-wise, this is the best of times. I still have my magnificent Hugo, my love Todd, my sweet Dad. The dead would want us to savor things, right? To be Washaway about things? That’s what I think when I drink green tea from the rim of a perfect ceramic mug Regnor made for me on a beautiful morning. Or maybe they don’t want anything, but I like to think they’re kicking around, wishing I wouldn’t preoccupy myself with things I can’t change.
So there I was, taking inventory on a birthday stroll, and I came upon what appeared to be some massive buzzards, which didn’t seem like a good omen, but then upon closer inspection, they looked like first-year eagles, which is lucky. Birds of prey, like art, are so subjective.The only certain thing is uncertainty. What will happen to my Seattle? As my friend Evan put it, “we lost the war.” Like Washaway, it is not if, but when. And the only thing to do is to try to create beauty in uncertain times.
Like an old car, there is maintenance that must be done. So it came to pass that I found myself at the dentist getting my first crown, that I might rule as your Queen. I switched to a fabulous new woman dentist in Burien who has TVs on the ceiling. Here are the things I learned while on nitrous at the dentist, watching Cartoon Network:
“Just because you’re scared doesn’t mean you’re not brave.”