I Guess That Is What Autumn Means?

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When poets, musicians and bards speak of the seasons, they speak of the cycle of life. Birth, life, death. The never ending cycle that none with a soul and a heartbeat can avoid.

I like to think of autumn in philosophical ways as I crunch the leaves under my feet. Ah yes, the earth must turn. The leaves must turn brown. My hair must turn gray.

But really, autumn isn’t quite just a philosophical thing for me anymore. I guess as years go by I have racked up painful scarred notches on my soul. Reminders. Injuries that push me from the figurative to the literal.

We are just a week away from the Thanksgiving holiday, and I am reminded that the anniversary of my father’s birth is also next week. He always favored an apple pie for his birthday, which occasionally fell on the actual day of Thanksgiving.

It has been almost nine years since he passed, and this autumn day has caused me to think of my father, and the deep well of sadness that I will likely not ever recover from.

His death broke something inside of me. Resolve? Courage? Strength? I don’t know. I do know that in the wake of his passing, I cry a lot easier. I get sad a lot more quickly. I grieve more profoundly. And I love with gusto because time is always ticking away. The world does not stop turning. The leaves cannot help but turn brown.

Today, when coworkers casually passed me in the hallway and asked, “How was your weekend?” by way of making small talk, my answer couldn’t be the usual “Fine, and you?” Sure, I said that a few times. And a few other times I said, “Actually, I had quite a terrible weekend.”

It’s true, but not everyone wants or cares about the truth when crossing paths in the break room on the way to the coffee machine on a Monday morning. Lying is hard for me.

My precious Feline is sick. A few months ago we knew she was sick but it didn’t seem terminal. Two months later and it’s not good. She spent the weekend at a pet hospital where too many people grabbed at her and poked needles in her and she wasn’t at home with her humans.

She’s home now, and that helps. They sent us home with bags full of medications and regimens. We cannot cure her, we can only make the symptoms a little less awful.

The prognosis is tough to make. She may live another year. She may only live until tonight. I have no idea.

But the clock is ticking. As I watch her lose weight and refuse to eat I know that the specter of death looms large. As large at the oak trees that line my residential street, spilling their leaves and showing me their skeletons.

This is autumn. As sure as I am not ready for pumpkin spice lattes, I’m also not ready for what this autumn has in store.





Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth




Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




Bottoms Up!

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Oh me oh my oh. Sometimes I really have to step back and just wonder what in the hell is wrong with me.

I try to be a normal person, I really do. I try to keep the weird under wraps and show a normal, professional, got-it-together face to the world.

But I ain’t got nothing together. It’s all just a shuck and a jive.

On Friday, I managed to embarrass myself pretty good.

See, I’ve been feeling a little bit on edge about the new job. I really, really like the job and my manager and the people I work with and perhaps I’ve become almost too emotionally attached to this place.

It’s an awesome gig! With how crazy busy things have been recently, I have made a few mistakes. One medium sized, one a great big whopper. Wheew. I do hate making mistakes on a grand scale.

I’m used to making mistakes. I always say, “It’s not whether or not you make a mistake, it’s how you get back out of the mistake that matters.” And it’s true.

Trouble is, I not only made these mistakes, but being so new I don’t even know how to back out gracefully. So I’ve been flailing at it.

Flailing. Never a good look.

I suppose I am actually grateful that I got sick recently because it took me out of the game for several days. That flu laid me down not-so-gently and gave me respite. And perspective.

Coming back to work I felt humbled and ready to step back in and be more calm and methodical about how I approach my work.

Then there was Friday. For reasons I can’t fully explain, I was totally out of sorts on Friday. Quaveringly low self-esteem, a bit of anxiety, and just all around trying and failing to keep it together.

At lunch I decided to head outside. My sister and I had been chatting about this fabulous under eye serum she found and I was off to Sephora to procure some of my very own. I thought it would be a nice bounce to my self esteem.

I got up from my desk and felt pretty ok. Threw my shoulders back and was doing my best “fake it until you make it” strut.

I went out the front door of the building and saw four coworkers (one of them an employee on my team), I smiled and said, “hey, that looks like trouble” and threw my head back and laughed just about the time the toe of my sandal caught the uneven concrete.

Then I went ass over teakettle. Right there. In front of a crowded foyer, lots of people outside, and four of my coworkers.

Oh, and everyone gasped and many people came running over. “Are you all right? Are you ok? Here I’ll help you up” was like a loud chorus swarming around my head.

Now, here’s the thing: I fall down all the time. My whole life. It’s just something I do.

Usually falling down happens in one of two scenarios. 1) I am feeling pretty overwhelmed and “out of it” or 2) I am feeling overconfident.

Well, Friday’s tumble definitely falls into category one. Overwhelmed. I tend to lose track of my feet and the results were incredibly humiliating.

Since I fall down so much, when I roll to a stop and quickly assess my limbs, and I realize I’m fine (and since I’m so well practiced at this I’m almost always fine) I start to laugh. C’mon! Falling down is funny!

But I think my sitting there on the ground cackling at myself makes people really nervous. I guess I’m supposed to be upset and crying when I fall. Hell, I’m not giving anyone that satisfaction! I’m going to laugh because falling is totally funny! Even my own tumbles are pretty dang hilarious.

Anyhow, I waved off all the hands reaching out to pull me up and repeated like a mantra, “I’m fine, I’m fine, no I’m not hurt, I’m fine.”

I got to my feet and walked away, intent on going to my car and still having my fun lunchtime shopping break, despite the dirt and gravel stuck to my backside.

Then I walked past a picnic table out by the parking garage, near to where all the fuss had happened.

Two young women sat at the table. As I walked by, one said to the other, “It’s because she’s so fat.”

Ouch. That’s not funny. That’s not ooops I fell down but I’m fine rocking good time Karen. That’s just mean.

So I walked away from them and went around the corner and I called The Good Man, because he felt like the only person in the world who might actually be on my side.

And of course, he was. So I promptly started crying. Sobbing, actually.

Thankfully he was nearby to where I work and he came over quickly whisked me away. We had lunch and he said soothing things and he took me to Sephora and I got my eye cream anyway.

Then I went back to work and I was (mostly) fine.

Because when the world is mean and gravity isn’t your friend, it’s nice to know that no matter what all those people think, The Good Man still likes me and believes I’m an all right person.

I worked for a few hours quietly in my office then I left work a little early and enjoyed my Friday late afternoon.

Today, Monday, I still feel a little sheepish. I am a manager, fer chrissakes and falling and flailing don’t inspire confidence from the troops.

Somehow I have to get my mojo back. Not sure how, just need to. And fast.

Maybe I should post an ad: LOST! One mojo. Last seen about a month ago. Really funky and fun. If found, please return to owner. Excellent karmic rewards upon return.








Image found here.




My Awkward Little Canvas

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At the end of last month, I attended an artist’s salon hosted by my mentor and photography teacher Marty Springer. At these monthly events, a group of photography students and artists come together to review each other’s work and provide feedback and critique.

The ticket for entry is that you bring a printed photograph for review.

I’ve been feeling pretty unartistic lately, so I went to the salon, but I was unable to bring a print (long story involving the horrific lack of possibilities for serious photographers to have their work printed) and endured the mild chiding from my mentor.

We went forward and had a really good session. The people in this group are fantastically talented.

As we wrapped up Marty issued us a challenge. In addition to teaching, mentoring and being a well-paid professional photographer, she also curates a small gallery at a local public library. This is the venue where we have our annual photography show, and the rest of the year the gallery hosts all manner of art pieces including photos, paintings, mixed media, quilts and more.

Marty told us how she had booked an artist for a show to span the month of February, but he had shown up with all of his pieces so poorly and cheaply framed that they fell off the wall moments after she had hung them. The artist didn’t have the desire to fix his errors, so Marty was left without a show.

This was Sunday night and the show was due to open Thursday.

She told us she wanted to go ahead with an exhibit and we were all invited to contribute. Something was going up on February 1. She spoke to us about February and celebrating Valentines, but more than that, Marty wanted to put a show on the walls that was about love and about healing.

In the wake after the very tense election and then the horrible tragedies in Sandy Hook, Colorado and Oregon, she wanted to have a show that wasn’t all lacy Valentines and light, but something that showed love and strength and healing.

She asked us if we were up to the task. Turns out we were.

I had an immediate idea for a mixed media piece that had been simmering in my mind for a while and seemed perfect for this show. I asked if mixed media was ok since most of the pieces would be photography. She told me not only was mixed media welcomed, but encouraged.

That night I came home, pulled out a blank canvas and gesso’d it (to dry overnight) wondering just how in the HELL I was going to get this done in time. At that point I was two weeks into a new job and still adjusting to a pretty long commute. My hours of free time for working on art were pretty severely limited, but I wanted to try.

This meant I had to edit myself A LOT. I guess watching all the seasons of “Project Runway” had put that thought in my head. “Edit yourself,” I kept saying as I wanted to add more, embellish more, get more complicated and advanced in the few hours I had to complete this piece.

If I was going to make it in time, this needed to be simple, quiet and powerful.

On Wednesday night, only two days after I started the piece, I turned in a mixed media canvas with glue and varnish still a bit damp. My mentor gasped and danced a little when she saw it.




It’s a bit hard to see, but the canvas is actually ripped through, then closed up with thread and staples.


I was so very unsure about turning in this piece because it felt a little…intimate…to be sharing with the world. There is a lot of me in that canvas. Also, other than a county fair a couple years back, I hadn’t exhibited any of my art pieces and showing my creations to anyone other than The Good Man makes me a bit shy.

As I handed it over, I could only see all of the many errors I needed to fix. If only there was time. My nerve began to waver, but I relinquished my canvas to my mentor with the belief she’d find the right place for it in her exhibit.

This past weekend The Good Man and I finally got a chance to get over to the gallery to see my little humble canvas. I almost cried. She found a great spot for my piece and it flows into the show really well. It both stands out and blends in.

It is so very gratifying to see my little mended heart hanging proudly on a gallery wall.




Side note: No wonder the cartoon I posted for Valentine’s Day got to me so deeply! This idea of a broken and repaired heart has been on my creative brain for a while now.

Much gratitude to The Good Man, the great State of New Mexico, The Crafty Chica for the inspiration and know-how.

Photo and canvas are both Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




The Great White Way

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So here I find myself at Friday, the end of the first long work week after my return from a fantastic vacation.

I’m a little tired, a little stressed, a little melancholy. A week ago today The Good Man and I were walking the High Line in Chelsea and feeling relaxed and happy.

Today I’m sitting at a desk feeling anything but relaxed and happy.

And so to curate the memories from my time off just a little while longer, I’ve decided to write a review column.

While in New York, The Good Man and I took in three Broadway shows. Below are my reviews of the three shows, presented in the chronological order in which they were viewed.

And away we go:


The Anarchist

The Good Man and I arrived in New York in the early evening on Saturday and so we simply had some good food and slept. Sunday we started exploring, and late in the afternoon, decided to hop over to the TKTS booth to see what sort of Broadway tickets we might scare up.

Most of the shows were already sold out, but The Anarchist still had seats available. The show was still in previews and the opening wasn’t until the following Saturday. The play was written and directed by David Mamet, he of the Glengarry Glen Ross fame and a well known and well respected playwright.

In addition, the play starred Patti LuPone and Debra Winger, two notably amazing actors.

Basically, we reasoned to ourselves, a new Mamet play with two amazing performers should, by all accounts, be worth seeing.

So we plunked down the cash and went to the show.

I knew going in that any Mamet show was going to have a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. Oh dear god. I had no idea what was in store for me.

Here I’ll borrow someone else‘s words to set the background:

The play is set in a prison. LuPone is Cathy, an anarchist who had shot police officers and has been in prison for 35 years. Winger’s role, as Ann, is less clear. She is probably a prison psychiatrist. Ann asks questions and Cathy answers, philosophizing about religion, the meaning of life and redemption.

Naturally, Cathy wants out. She wants to see her father before he dies and argues that she has served her time.

Ann keeps asking her where one of her accomplices is, and Cathy says she does not know. Ann asks her about redemption and about being born a Jew who has been reborn a Christian in prison. They talk about it and then talk some more.

The show began as most Mamet works do, right in the middle of the conversation. You as an audience member have no context. You just gotta run, hop on and don’t ask too many questions.

The freight train sped along for just seventy minutes then abruptly stopped.

We in the audience applauded because the performers did the best they could with the material.

Then when we stopped clapping, we all looked at each other like “what the hell just happened?”

My biggest fear at that moment was that The Good Man was going to turn to me and say “wasn’t that great!?!?!”

He did not.

Afterwards, over an egg cream, we talked about the show. At first I felt really disappointed in the whole thing, then I got a little mad.

Mr. Mamet has always been massively self-indulgent in his works, but this went beyond the pale. And that he forced two fine actors to rattle through his haphazard script is pretty much a crime.

Basically, this whole thing left a really bad taste in my mouth. Isn’t Broadway supposed to be the best of live theatre?

(A final note: Just this week, in the wake of the official opening on December 1, the show has received awful reviews and will close December 16th after just 17 regular performances. Seems it wasn’t only The Good Man and I that were put off the show.)




Image from backstage.com



Nice Work If You Can Get It


Two days after the disaster on 45th street, The Good Man and I dove back into the fray.

We visited the TKTS booth again and this time picked up tickets to the show Nice Work If You Can Get It.

This combined two happy elements for us. The book is inspired by some of the works of PG Wodehouse, he of Jeeves and Wooster fame and author of hundreds of hilariously funny books, and the music and lyrics of Gershwin.

Oh, and it stars Matthew Broderick.

As an aside, as we were stepping up to the ticket taker at the very doors of the theatre, he said to me “hang on a moment” and from behind the door came Mr. Broderick’s wife, Sarah Jessica Parker. She was extraordinarily nice to everyone, thanked the man taking tickets, said excuse me to us and made her way out. She must have stopped by for a quick pre-show “break a leg” to the hubby.

As she walked away, The Good Man commented, “wow, she’s really cute in person” and I totally agreed. She is actually quite adorable in real life and very sweet. I think the camera does her little justice, actually.

After the star sighting, we found out seats. As the curtain went up, both The Good Man and I had very high expectations for the show.

Very, very high expectations.

And not only were these skyscraper high expectations met, but also blown right past. (< - terrible grammar, and yet I don't care) Set in Prohibition era New York, the show had a zany story line that roughly centers around a rich guy on the eve of his third marriage who, stumbling home sauced after his bachelor party, bumps into a sassy bootlegging girl, and is a bit taken with her. Through a series of funny events, the bootleggers end up hiding their gin in the basement of the rich man's Long Island home ("I never go there"). When the man and his new wacky wife show up to honeymoon at the same home, they end up surprising the bootleggers. Lots of singing, tons of dancing and a lot of hilarity ensues. The cast is amazingly talented and the show just flowed beautifully from start to finish. Mr. Broderick really can do anything, can't he? Sing, dance, act, theater, television, movies. All of it. And while Mr. Broderick was the most well known actor in the cast, really Kelli O'Hara is the star of the show. She is luminous and definitely enchanting. Hell, by the end of the show I was ready to marry her! What a great show and what a great way to regain my trust in the quality of the shows on Broadway.




Image from Entertainment Weekly

And finally…


War Horse

We had seen War Horse here in San Francisco and it really resonated with me on a very deep level.

In fact, The Good Man and I had been talking for a long time about a trip to New York, and it was my desire to see War Horse on Broadway that became the motivating factor.

I didn’t want no TKTS who knows what seats we’ll get scenario. I insisted The Good Man buy tickets early and get the best seats he could.

Oh boy did he. Second row. From start to finish we were right in the middle of the action.

Since New York’s Lincoln Center has a pretty big stage, the production was a little different than in San Francisco and in many ways the performance was far better.

Whereas when I saw the show at The Curran in San Francisco, we sat quite a bit back and I was very into the storyline of the horses, meaning I stared at them the whole time and the actors were secondary.

Being so up close this time, the puppet horses simply integrated into the scenes and I was all up in the middle of the characters and their story. Being able to see facial expressions and quite literally sit in the middle of the action was a profoundly different experience.

As with the last time, I was completely engaged in every moment of the show and when “the big sad part” came along I did again cry my eyes out, but it was so much more real this second time. When the lights came up I had dried up my eyes, then immediately started crying again. Then I stifled it and went to the restroom to clean up. And so I cried again.

All of this crying occurred even knowing what was going to happen and when. And knowing how the situation resolved itself.

There is really something about the crucial scene when Joey, our lead horse, is caught in the barb wire on the battlefield that about does me in. I should probably hire a qualified therapist and figure that out. It just demolishes me. (and that’s good theatre, folks!)

As The Good Man hugged me while I wailed like a baby, I said to him, “I don’t think I can do this again.”

My goal after seeing the show in San Francisco was to see it again in New York, then see it a final time in London. But have mercy, I don’t think I can go through that again.

What an amazing show. For anyone reading this who may say, “Oh, just watch the movie” I say no. Absolutely not. The magic of this show is the amazing puppetry of the animals. This play is the story of World War I told from the view of a horse which makes it groundbreaking. It’s the puppetry of the horses that makes it exceptional, and there is no way a movie using real horses can even come close.

Whew, just thinking about it again gets the tears burning at the sides of my eyes. It is just so profoundly good.

Our original plan after the show was to go to Rockefeller Center to watch the tree lighting. No way that was going to happen as I was a soppy mess, so we tucked into a family run pizza joint and noshed and kibitzed with the owner and watched the lighting on TV.

Yeah, pretty much among the top five most amazing days of my life.




Image from performingarts.about.com


Ok, well there you have it. What I wouldn’t give to have the kind of time and money to go back to New York and see every single show on Broadway. I’d love every single ding dang minute of it.

Well that’s that, and my lunch hour is over. Back to the salt mines.

Oh, I see I have eight new emails from the Boss Man. How fun.



Requiem for a Little Thing

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The Good Man cautioned me about posting this because it’s very squishy and quite soppy and over the top melancholy. He warned me that I am opening myself up to some teasing for being so weepy about a fish. That’s ok. It’s what was on my heart and so I wrote it. Then I decided to go ahead and post it anyway. So here goes.

***

The Good Man often says, “No one cares about the little things” when referring to pets and small animals. At first I thought he was just being overly dramatic, but over the years, I’ve come to realize he might be right.

As a child, my parents were not fans of animals as pets and the care that goes along with having a pet, and so I didn’t have a pet until I was twelve years old. I didn’t learn to own and care for a pet, and how to lose a pet, in my early years.

My first animal was a cat named Yoda and I adored that cat. She died when I was in college and I still remember driving home to my parent’s place in Carlsbad crying my eyes out the whole way. A little girl racing home in a rattletrap car with big, sobbing tears, all over a cat. Yeah, that’s me.

As I moved into my adulthood, I always lived in an apartment and most rental places don’t want you to have a pet. So I didn’t.

The Good Man, on the other hand, has never had a moment in his life where he didn’t have a pet. He’s really good at taking care of animals and reading their moods, and he also has a lot of experience dealing with the loss of beloved pets.

When this handsome man entered my life, he came with baggage in the form of not one but two cats. In the first year of our association, one of the two kittehs (who had a slight attachment to me) passed on and I was crushed with grief. Crushed, dumbfounded and heartbroken. I’d grown to love that orange cat in a very short time and it had been a long time since I’d had a little animal to love.

We still have one kitteh, the rasty Feline, and she’s 14 and cranky and I can’t imagine a day when she’s not balled up behind my knees in the bed while I sleep.

And then there is my fish.

Who can be sentimental about a fish?

Me, that’s who.

For reasons I can’t quite articulate, a few years ago I decided I wanted to have some betta fish. I’d heard they were interactive and smart. I mean, a fish? All water and gills and scales. Interactive?

Turns out it is true. Betta fish are quite interactive and dare I say they have a good sense of humor too.

The downside of owning betta fish is that they have a pretty short life span. Three years is a good run. Some people get as much as five.

Last year, we lost our little girl fish, Margaret and I was saddened. She was the kindest, sweetest, most lovely little being. We joked she was the queen of our home, as she had a regal bearing about her.

Over most of this past year, my boy fish Benito has struggled. He’s sick with some sort of ailment that has caused his kidneys to fail. His abdomen is distended and it’s only a matter of (short) time before he shuffles off this mortal coil.

I look at my little betta and I see him suffering and I’m sad.

“It’s just a fish!” a friend said, when I wanted to talk to her about my sadness.

Yes. Just a fish. But my fish. And he is loved. Watching any being suffer is tough to take.

So every day I talk to my little fish and I coax him to have a few pellets and I worry over him and I change his water a lot and I know the end is near.

I guess as I age I’ve become an old softie. The thing is, I really am sad. I wish I could hug my little fish and make him feel better but I cannot. I can only sit outside his tank and hold my finger up to the glass and he will chase my finger, even when he feels bad, because that’s how we play.

————

All of the above was written about a month ago. I just had to get my thoughts out while I watched my cherished pet suffer.

Tuesday morning in the very small hours, I was up and making breakfast when I noticed my fish struggling. He had a little seizure and then he quietly died.

I can’t believe I had to watch him die, even as I am glad I was there with him.

The Good Man and I talked. I don’t think I want to have any new pets for a while. We’re good with the one rasty cat.

In Spanish, the word benito means blessing. For a few years my little red fish was a happy little blessing in my life.

I’m happy I got to be his human.

Boy oh boy, this losing a pet just doesn’t get any easier.



My beautiful cranky faced fish.



Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone4s and the Instagram app.



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