Pet Portrait

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A dear friend commissioned me to paint this 5×7 portrait of his beloved spaniel. I began to love this dog as I rendered his image, which is something that happens every time I paint: with care and focus comes love. Instead of taking payment, I asked my friend to make a donation to the Animal Welfare Institute. In this way we all win. I am eager to do more of these portraits, each one a small contribution to the healing of this world.

New Poems in Voice of Eve

I am delighted to have two of my poems, “Snow” and “Vultures” featured in the latest issue of Voice of Eve. This fine journal promotes the poetry of women.

“Voice of Eve is a web magazine dedicated to showcasing quality women’s poetry. Our hope is to build a community of women who can be empowered by sharing and reading each other’s work. We believe strength comes in unity with diversity and ultimately it is love that binds us.”

Editors:  Richard Holleman and Sarah Rodriguez

contact@voiceofeve.net

AARP

BUMAY18_001A.pdf

You sign up for the discounts,
those measly wins you have to ask for.
The clerk eyes you, stalls, maybe calls the manager,
but your card is in your wallet,
you’ve got him on the ropes.

You can’t in fact keep up
with all you’re earned:
free coffee at McDonald’s, 10% off at Denny’s,
early bird specials at Golden Corral.
And all for just staying alive!

Paradoxically, the AARP magazine
(which comes uninvited each month)
will ward you off these places, advising healthier options.
Remember: your arteries are harder now
and don’t spring back anymore.

Are there others like me,
who opt out of the journal, who don’t care
to use the symptom checker or
read about scams at the gas pump,
who just want to call a truce with the world?

Don’t tell me how to fend off death,
tell me how to live with its arrival,
how to claim wonder,
how to stay open,
how to give myself away.

The Spandex Tsunami

Am I the only person perplexed by the staggering popularity of Spandex? Why have so many women decided that tourniquet tight legwear is a wardrobe must? And not just slim women; women of all shapes and sizes pry on their pants each day and head out into the world, defiant as new parolees.

I don’t care if you have a rockin’ body, I don’t care if you don’t. I’m just tired of seeing so much of you. I never signed up for a free subscription to your ass.

“They’re super comfortable,” a friend assured me, beaming at her thighs, which were shrink-wrapped in a dark gray material splashed with giant yellow daisies. “They move with your body,” she explained. Indeed your body cannot shake them; you’ve eliminated the option.

Yoga pants. Compression wear. Training tights. Leggings. Designers have worked hard to come up with fetching names. Still promoted/justified as sportswear, the distinction has become meaningless.

There are a handful of competitive sports that benefit from tight uniforms. When winning is measured by a thousandth of a second, a second skin is the way to go. The rest of us have options, especially those who don’t know they do, who believe that compression tights and skinny jeans are tickets to freedom.

Every time I see a girl in tight jeans—which is every day, many times a day—I cringe a little, imagining the difficulty involved in sitting, bending and walking. A fashion that limits movement, impinges on circulation and inhibits healthy breathing is not a product that favors liberation and empowerment.

Remember Grunge? I do, even though it last just half a minute back in the early 90s. With origins in the Seattle area, Grunge fashion—for both men and women—was characterized by durable and cheap clothing often worn in a loose, androgynous manner to de-emphasize the silhouette. Make-up and excessive grooming were shunned; the whole point was to disavow the pitfalls of conformity and capitalism. Decades later, men are still wearing easy-fitting clothes; women, sadly, are not. I guess Doc Martens, roomy jeans and flannel shirts did not contribute to the objectification of the female form. If a women’s body is de-emphasized, who will want it? Who will care? What is it worth?

What I miss most from the Grunge period was the way women carried themselves. The sureness of their movements, the nascent confidence. Women were realizing at last that they owned themselves, or could. Who needed to measure up? For a brief period in our evolution, the female body was under autonomous rule as women adopted a brave new world of non-fashion and individuality.

A style that celebrates personal freedom is not a style that can be easily re-packaged by clothing designers, and so Grunge died out. Hoping to monetize the attitude, the fashion industry has tried at intervals to echo the lost look, offering distressed garments at high prices, but these attempts do not illustrate what Grunge was all about. The mainstream cannot adopt a subculture without losing its grassroots nature.

So far, I’m not seeing any sign that women are ready to peel off their Spandex and slip into something more comfortable. I’ve been waiting for that sea change, for some daring designer to introduce loose-fitting jeans for women. Imagine the culture shock, millions of females moving freely through their days, empowered by the anonymity of modest, comfortable clothing. Of course, there is still the matter of make-up, hair dye and Botox, but we have to start somewhere.

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