today i did a thing.
that thing was to climb into the bucket of a tree truck, and be lifted very, very high off the ground to rescue my cat from a tree.
that thing was scary. i shook the entire time. i took deep breaths. i said “i can’t do this” a lot, and the guy on the ground kept telling me i was fine.
i wanted to get down. i wanted someone else to do it.
but up and up i went, until i was right below the branch where my cat was perched. she meowed and meowed and i stuck out an arm, petting her and coaxing her to come closer to me.
“you gotta use both hands,” yelled the guy from below.
i didn’t want to use both hands. i wanted one hand firmly gripping the bucket because i was trembling and it didn’t seem possible that i would not just fall right out.
“you can’t fall,” he said.
finally i reached both hands out and grabbed the cat and pulled her into the bucket with me. i held her down on the floor of the bucket saying, “you dumb cat. don’t ever do that again.” i was still trembling. shaking. scared scared scared.
i got to the ground. i tossed the cat out. i climbed out myself and i thanked the tree guys.
it didn’t occur to me that i had faced one of my fears. i am a total scaredy cat when it comes to heights. i never climb up high and jump off rocks into water. i don’t dive into pools from a diving board. i don’t stand near the edges of places.
it didn’t feel like i was facing a fear. i didn’t feel exhilarated. i felt trembly and weak and like i really didn’t want to do it.
but maybe that’s how it is.
Last night was the second week of my fall 2017 Comics Studio workshop. It’s the third time I’ve taught this class, and it’s different every time.
One of the exercises from last night was:
“Draw a comic that answers the following questions,
1. What is fear?
2. Where is it located?
3. How do you conquer it?”
I often participate in these exercises along with the students. Here is what I made for this one:
Even though I plan the exercises, I am often surprised at what comes out of them. My students are thoughtful and creative and brave. They come up with things I never would have expected. They inspire me, and I try to be as in the moment as they are, only drawing what comes to me in that moment.
Try this exercise, if you like.
What is fear?
Where is is located?
How do you conquer it?
Why would Giles think his name is Archie? I have been a fan of Archie Comics since I was seven-years-old and happen to have an Archie bobblehead doll that Giles loves to play with. He runs around the house carrying it, shouting, “Ah-chee, Ah-chee!”
One of my nicknames for Giles is “chonchy.” This is something our mom called my sister and I, one of her little pet names for us. I probably call Giles “chonchy” more often than I call him “Giles.” It’s possible that “Ah-chee” is his attempt at “chonchy.”
I wonder what his friends will call him. What all the nicknames of his life will be.
Today, September 6, 2017 would be my mom’s 59th birthday if she were still alive.
When I think about being a mom, my own role as Giles’ mom, I think a thousand times a day what my own mama would think about how I am doing. How would she do this or that…and especially the light on her face as she would hold Giles, play with him, talk with him.
Grief doesn’t go away. You don’t move on. Sometimes I know how to hold it and sometimes I don’t.
I put Nina Simone on for Giles’ nap today. Her voice, cool and deep and full– music seems to be Giles favorite thing, the thing that fills his heart. Well, that and food. And books. And balls. And laughing. He loves it all.
Mama was the most alive person I knew. Until Giles. He is so very alive.
She is in his eyes. She is somewhere in him.
Viola Rose Moriarty would be 59 today. She was an artist. Her life was her best art. She was my mom.
From her blog, April 4, 2010:
Today I called my family in Denver to wish them a Happy Easter. We had coffee with the NYTimes and sportsreporters and Ina…the Sunday morning slow start. Ahhhh…….
And then we finally pulled on some work clothes and got started.
We worked on our list of home chores, taking care of the live things first. Toilet scrubbing and floor washing and paying bills and writing thank yous and making donations, both in things to pass on and in the checks we could write now. We prepped for the week and cleaned the fish tank and the litter box and filled bird feeders and cleaned out the gardens, watered and fed the plants, finally making lists for things that can’t be done today and how much we’ll need to fix or do them later—all the little and big maintenance things that keep a home running.
Today we “counted” the chickadees starting their nest in the little house just outside our backdoor as they do every spring, and the forsythia’s first yellow blooms. We counted the garlics and crocuses and bits of herbs and bulbs that all made it through another winter. They survived and so did we. We tested the fish tank water and put out the bird baths.
And then we had a good salad for an early dinner and went to a movie at our arthouse theatre where we are members.
I love this feeling of participating in my life, of doing it together with Jon. Of making a home.
Foundation in lovingkindness. We do the best we can for all who reside here with us and around us.
This “making a home” stuff– this is where I feel most like my mom. More even than making art. I am making a home, participating in my own life. Foundation in lovingkindness.
Happy birthday, Mama. I love you.
I made a Society6 page, as a new way to sell some of my work. Check it out Here.
Thanks to mom friends Lizzie (panel #5) and Frances (end image) for their words which I used in this comic along with my own.
People mean well when they say “enjoy every moment” and “it goes so fast” (even I do it sometimes). Maybe the next time you feel like you are going to say one of these things, just say something else instead.
“You look great!”
“Your baby is awesome.”
“You’re doing a great job.”
“Can I buy you a coffee?”
I have a new exhibit of paintings going up at Images Cinema next week. If you are local, stop by and see them during the month of August, anytime the cinema is open. There will be an opening reception on Friday August 4, 5:00-6:30pm.