See If You Can Get Through the Entire Day Nose Breathing
and other stuff.
It has worked wonders for me, this cat, and prolonged the life of the 19th century painter, George Catlin. His last printed words were these:
And if I were to endeavour to bequeath to posterity the most important motto which human language can convey, it should be in three words—
In the social transactions of life, this might have its beneficial results, as the most friendly, cautionary advice, or be received as the grossest of insults; but where I would paint and engrave it, in every nursery, and on every bed-post in the universe, its meaning could not be mistaken; and if obeyed, its importance would soon be realized.
There is a more modern book available. Since its reading last April, along with a denial diet and copious amounts of binge beer drinking, I have extended my life eternally in the present moment.
Also, I no longer snore, lost 35 pounds and listen to others like a decent priest instead of the hypocritical misanthrope I pretended to be while mouth breathing.
This is the last time I mention it, for nature loves a vaccuum when its hose is stuffed up the mouth of a tiresome fanatic.
First doctor visit in a looong time, and I spent most of my appointment shaking my head “No” to the prospect of a colonoscopy. That’s a story for another time, and one I’ll probably never write about. Let’s just say that I’m a stickler for the Hippocratic Oath. I realize lives can be lengthened for some people, if they desire twilight sleep and colon-probing with tiny cameras and razor blades. Lives can be longer too if people stop driving in cars or eating cheeseburgers. But first, do no physical or mental harm, and psychologically, this neurotic can wait until he’s dead to have a stranger get paid to collect his polyps in a tube.
Meanwhile, nearly 17 million colonoscopies are “performed” in the United States annually, at an average cost of $3,000 a procedure.
That’s big money. Ralph Emerson wrote that “life is unnecessarily too long”. He lived 79 years without any length of colonoscope worming up his rectum.
For this lessor philosopher, me, I’ll double my ration of steel cut oats and leave the cream inside the cows. For now.
After the doctor, I came home and made the painting, talked to my Dad on the phone (He’s had like 30 colonoscopies), stir fried mushrooms with brown rice noodles, and played this song (and others) with Rose. Blind Willie McTell died of a stroke at age 61. They say if he adhered to his recommended colonoscopy regimen, he would have died of a stroke at age 61.
I applied for a visiting artist position at a university. It’s chic these days to include a diversity statement.
I was born into the historically winning gender that has controlled all things art and world dominance since cavewoman times. I am a Caucasian man and citizen of the United States here to explain my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and for many rational, thinking persons, doomed to fail right from the start.
But it’s true. Notwithstanding my outside appearance (and therefore my unfair advantage over other races, genders, ethnicities, and disabilities), I was born with the justice gene, and it has shaped my adult life tremendously. As an artist, I would declare that more than half of my output expresses a political or justice-related theme. Whether a painting or essay, I feel most inspired and creative while extinguishing the fire in my gray matter, stoked by a social wrong. Like the old adage suggests to assuage the frustrated and underrepresented (which all artists are), “Turn your anger into a work of art”!
Artistically, I believe that anger (more often frustration) expressed creatively, in equal parts to love, will embolden an exasperated culture to move toward a more equitable future for our species and also the billion or so other species who have no say in their futures during these early throes of the sixth extinction.
How do I express this commitment specifically?
For 29 years I raised two daughters as a stay-at-home Dad. I homeschooled both girls until their teenage years. I did the majority of housework, and all the cooking because my wife and I agreed that the best scenario for our family was for one of us to stay at home—preferably the one whose job and career was less tenable.
So I stayed home. And was thoroughly enriched by a new, empowering perspective and experience. I was raising children! Unlike my father, or his father (ad infinitum down the line), I began to see the world through the eyes of a pre-Betty Friedan generation of American women. I was enlivened and enriched by the experience, yet there was always some underlying emptiness at issue. As time went on, I was (am) no longer marketable for employment in the workplace much beyond an hourly minimum wage. I had (have) no financial prospects on the horizon. Yet I had (have) the safety net to relinquish my economy by choice. I understand that millions of committed underrepresented people today do not have that opportunity.
I raised my daughters to not only think critically, but also demand a fairer world for themselves. Each has learned to buck an oppressive system to her advantage. Our homeschool and dinner table experience was replete with social justice themes. Civil rights, people’s histories, women and gender issues, climate justice, education reform... Throughout these years I wrote and painted in my free time, usually in the very early mornings and late evenings. Social justice themes abound in my oeuvre, yet neither popularly nor financially to my benefit. Today I work full time in my home studio, painting and writing.
I am a strong advocate for change, especially in education where a level playing field is the best way to achieve an equitable balance. Education is the door leading to freedom. I strive through my art and life practice to share my vision with all peoples interested in creating a more just world.
The youth today carry the seeds to whatever becomes of our future. I believe my generation has done a pretty good job raising socially conscious human beings. For the first time in modern history, the generation gap is closing fast, and for all the right reasons. Unlike in previous cycles that handed down a continuation of the status quo, the youth of today are not rebelling so much as educating their elders about a better world to come. They’re also impatient, and rightly so. Social and environmental justice is wanted now, not tomorrow, for next week who knows what huge mass of ice will break off Antarctica? Thanks to the Internet, and especially social media, information is immediate and democratic, which builds bridges quickly across outdated divides of race, gender, disability, religion, age, marital status, socioeconomic placement, or even language. It holds the understanding that “knowledge is power” to millions, who for too long were marginalized by poorly designed systems. I would bring to the position a deep admiration and respect for people’s creative and inquisitive energies. I believe that artists are the first in line to sign the new social contract. Make way for the life giving ones! I would use my talents to inspire confidence, cooperation, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As potential resident artist, I make this promise to the local community.
Finally, on Tuesday I painted portraits of the married couple who do not wish to be immortalized in a painting. Neither of us look like the obvious limitations of my rendering. One of us is wearing a bib.
Long term togetherness can become smother love. One of my hobbies is breaking apart the bonds that break. Fortunately, I still hope every Spring like in this bad poem I wrote 25 Aprils ago:
I Think You Are in Cahoots With the Dove
My love in paradise
the white-tipped blackbird
sings sunrise to all other weak things
like your innocence
And doves coo-coo with the malice of a pillow
and fly off without harming anyone I think...
The night cat Tuxedo
waits by the door smelling you
(The door opens shyly and says “Hi”)
The things that come and go in this world
are so fast and usually very mean
or at best bewildered enough to kill an awful
lot of things
that I will not endeavor ever
a peace which cannot stay put like us
We are not faltering blindly through this life
What magic’s left encircles thee
always in the play of cats and birds
It is our determined gentle hands that matter
For even in the slowest walking hum-drum world
the pink and red rain flowers
cannot easily hide their urge
stinky joys like April
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Always merry and bright!