Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Isis

Yesterday, I had my first attempt at making a statue. I tried to re-create the statue of Isis - the original one that we got in Washington got broken. We found it in two cracked pieces under the couch; it is difficult to say how long it has been there, probably months. Joe glued it together, but the wings are still chipped, so it looked like our Isis had clipped wings. I do not think that, if I were the spirit of the Goddess, I would want to visit this image.
Buying a new one seemed too cheap... As if we do not value our faith to put ourselves into it, but rather satisfy ourselves with mere possessions of our Gods' idols. So, I thought that the only appropriate thing to do would be to make a new image.
I do not know the first thing about the art of sculpture. Thankfully, I have a friend, and she is an artist at making dolls. She is quite talented. So, I made a date with her to visit her at the house and dedicate my day to the project of Isis.
Originally, I wanted to make an exact copy of the broken one - small Isis sitting on the stand, with wings outstretched... After about one hour of trying to arrange her face, I was forced to admit that working in such small measurements is above me at the moment. So, I went to a bigger size. That face, even though not as difficult to form, still took me about three and a half hours to make. It seemed that, no matter what I did, my Isis's face always ended up looking like the mask of some angry Ancient God - which I did not mind, but I wanted to remember that she is, in fact, a woman. I could only hope that, after looking at her image, Isis would not get more angry at me than before: " All right, first you break my image and forget it under the couch for several months, now you make a new image of me - is that what you really think of me?!!!"
Thankfully, my friend Tami helped me. She showed me how to smooth the face, how to make the nose and the bone cheeks look more feminine. Finally, she took over for a little while and made some additions that contributed to my Isis looking like a woman.
After we baked the face, I made the body and the wings. I decided to portray her standing, instead of sitting up. The hands were put on a wire. Tami helped by sculpting her hair. Then, we put it in the oven to bake - the "final bake," as Tami put it.
After bringing my Isis home, I looked at her carefully. She was fully ready - to be painted. I made her out of white clay, and I made a round stand for her, so she would be easier to balance (Tami's suggestion).
I chose the acrylic paint colors for her: orange for the dress, tan for the body (I mixed ochre with orange to get it), black for the hair, and blue and yellow for the wings. Originally, I wanted to make the wings black and gold - like they had it in the original statue - but then it occurred to me that her hair was already black, and black and orange together do not make a very pleasant combination. So, black was replaced with blue, and gold with yellow.
As I had more experience with painting than with sculpting - I took some art classes in my childhood - I felt more comfortable with this part. I saw my Isis changing from clay white to the tall, brightly dressed woman with raven black hair and dark blue wings - like the night sky with the stars. I liked the way she looked. Yet, I was very concerned about painting her eyes: one false move - and the black line would go across her face, and what if it gets ruined?
After several misses and repaints (I would wait for the paint to dry and then paint over my mistake with the tan color of the face) I finally found the right brush and the right consistency of paint. I tried to line on the newspaper and on my hand first. It looked perfect. Then, I went to the eyes.
I was holding the brush with my left hand - for some reason, sometimes I can do better with my left hand when it comes to more delicate work. I outlined the eyes with the black. Then, I took some blue paint and put two drops of it - one in each eye - for the color of the eyes.
After twelve hours of work, my Isis was complete. With her wings outstretched, she was walking on the waters of the Nile. What is she doing? Is she looking for her husband's body? Or is she trying to warn her son of his impending death, advising him against touching snakes?
Even now, her eyes look sad and her face looks stern and angry. I cannot blame her. I know how she feels. The main thing is - she is not indifferent.
My youngest daughter kept looking at Isis throughout the whole painting process. She kept saying to me: " Mommy, this is very good. This is not perfect, of course... But it's beautiful."
I am satisfied with that. I hope Isis will be, too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Work Updates

As of today, my employment position has become a permanent one ; that is, my probation period is over, my holidays are now paid, and I do not have to worry about being dismissed at a blink of an eye… I guess I am doing something right.

Congratulations to myself!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Friendship, Perversity, etc.

When I was fourteen, I was approached. An older man came up to me in the park, paid me a strange compliment - "You have a sexy walk" - and continued to explain that he found me extremely attractive and wanted to know me in a much closer way.

In the next hour of our conversation we had an intense, powerful discussion about books, human relationships, nature of sex, and each other's likes and dislikes. We talked about Sexus. We talked about novels of Marquis De Sade (he suggested I should read some of his works to get better acquainted with and accept my own sensuality). He explained his own idea of women and their place in the world, describing them as "instruments of pleasure" for someone like himself. In the end, he suggested I should come over to his place so that he could give me some "hands-on" experience on the subject we were discussing.

Overwhelmed with information, attention, his eloquence and, most of all, his straight-forward manner, I sat on the park bench, trying to get my thoughts together. Finally, I managed to ask, "How old are you?" He said he was - I think - thirty seven. - "And do you have any children?" - "Yes, I have a daughter, she is fourteen." - "I am fourteen too... If some man approached your daughter like you had approached me, what would you have done?"
His tone changed. "I would have cut his nuts off... Probably." - "Ah," I said, "so it's all right for me to receive offers of this nature from a man like yourself, but for your daughter - that's another matter entirely?"
He gave me a look - quite different from the previous lusty glances I had caught from him during our conversation. Then, he got up. I heard him say - very quietly - "I'm sorry." Then, he walked away from me without looking back.

Later, from my discussions with teachers and my own parents, I learned that I should have been outraged and insulted. Yet, I was not; in fact, I was flattered in a strange way. Flattered not with being his choice of sexual attention, mind you; rather, it was that he chose me to have an open, intelligent conversation about a topic no one else dared to approach with me to such a detailed extent. I felt like someone finally saw me as an adult. I saw someone who - for whatever reason - was interested in me and wanted to know as much as possible about me. Fully aware of the outrageous nature of his proposition, I still appreciated all the consideration he gave me while conversing with me about the delicate subject of human intimacy: there was not a single dirty word in his description, not one insult to my ear. He was an eloquent, intelligent, educated man, and I appreciated that about him; his motives might have been perverse, but he was entirely open and honest about those, using no "romantic interludes" that often are so popular among seducers.

Going on with my life and learning more about mythology, I nicknamed that personal encounter "my Azazel," which I think was quite appropriate. In a strange way, I still feel him present in my life, - whenever I see a male "friend" cover up his lusty interests with fake vows of love and devotion, I seem to hear my Azazel's voice: "Don't you think that's cheap? If you are going to tell this woman a lie, at least come up with a good one - give her some credit for her intelligence!"

Sometimes, as I look at people, I cannot help but ask questions and remember him as well. I think of the persons who are, although consider themselves my friends, do not take time to teach me about themselves or let me learn about them. They profess their closeness to me, swear their love and friendship, yet they do not take time to avail themselves for a cup of coffee, a game of chess, an intelligent conversation, - let alone for any situation that requires actual help. In this case, I cannot help but conclude that a pervert on the street took more time and interest in finding out my dreams, hopes and desires than any of them, and his goal was simply to... nail me.
I think of him also when I think of the causes of rape and violence in our society. Granted, often a rapist wants to rape out of animalistic instinct; he refuses to accept the boundaries of societal structure, and his rape is an announcement: "I want it and it is mine, I do not care what anyone, including the victim, thinks of feels about it." But I feel that, quite often, the use of force of one person over another may be a scream for attention, a demand for being reckoned with. Indeed, if one lives in the society where acquiring possessions has become a priority over acquiring friends, then one's existence may seem- and become - meaningless. Surrounded by "friends" who do not have time for you - ever; thinking of love for another person as something eternal and greater than life, yet forced to reckon with it as something of an endless dating game, - the way it is pictured on TV shows and accepted by the majority; frustrated by the feeling of own insignificance, yet sensing that you are destined for more... What is left? If people around you do not want to take you seriously, you are left with the only option: to force them to take you seriously. You force your date to commit on your terms by doing something to her that you want to do, thus making her accept - artificially - yourself just the way you are. You force your co-workers to listen to your suggestions in an unfriendly atmosphere of a hold up - now, that you have a gun, they will accept them, since they never seemed to have time for you during regular meetings.... And only to think that, if your friends and co-workers took the time to listen to you, to pay attention to your words - for any, even the most despicable, reason of their own, - you would not have felt the need to impose yourself so violently on others.

As artificial intelligence and technology progress, connection among human beings seems to weaken... Yet, it is our connection to each other that helps us survive during the time of the most horrible crisis... When we forget the importance of that connection, we disintegrate and die.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happily Ever After?

What are some common things between all fairy tales in the world? Every tale has a prince and a princess that are in love with each other. Every tale describes the trials and tribulations the characters go through to be together.
There is one common thing that all fairy tales do not do, however: they never describe the lives of the heroes after the wedding. Once the Prince Charming and the Beautiful Princess - whatever their names - overcome the hindrances that stand in the way of their togetherness, it is assumed that all their troubles are over, and the story ends with them living "happily ever after."

Yet, it is the "happily ever after" period that always interested me. What happened to Cinderella after she became the wife of the Prince? Was Belle happy at the castle with the Beast? Whatever happened to Snow White after her Hero took her away from the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs?

Personally, I always had doubts about the happiness of the last couple. Perhaps, it was the Disney depiction of Snow White's character that made me unsure about the possibility of that woman's marital bliss. Maybe it was her voice. Somehow, I always pictured the Prince waking up one morning, getting dressed and ready to go about his day - when he would hear the high-pitched, unnatural voice of his beloved: "Uh-uh-uh! You have not brushed your teeth!" This is the moment when, in my mind, the prince would smile that gentle smile, walk back into the palace and hack his beloved Princess into pieces with a butcher cleaver. Or, perhaps, to be true to the story, he would use the poison apple - the last gift of his Mother-in-Law.

Another couple whose happiness seemed unlikely to me was the Sleeping Beauty and her prince. Beauty's curse could only be broken by true Love's first kiss - true Love of the Prince, that is. I imagine the Princess waking up after one hundred years of slumber to the man she is to marry. He is in love with her... but she does not know him. She has never seen him before; to her, he is a total stranger... HIS true love is there, but what about HERS? What if, altogether, the Prince that is to wake her up from the curse is not the same one that SHE is to fall in love with? If so, then the blessing of the Fairies turned out to be a curse in its own way, and a more potent than the original one, its side effect being a lifetime of misery.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Not Like Them

I am not like them. I am not fat. I am not ugly. I do not say ugly things. I always do the right thing. I always try. I try to take care of my responsibilities. My responsibilities are my family. My family is most important in my life. My life is full. Full of responsibilities. Full of work. Full of plans.

I plan to take care of bills. I plan to take care of debt. I plan to move. I plan.

They do things. They cheat on their spouses. They get pregnant. They abandon their children. They get drunk. They get stoned. They make mistakes. They get taken care of. They go to Las Vegas. They go to LA. They do. I plan.

They feel. They feel loved. They feel close. They feel forgiven. They feel right.

I am. I am alone. I am separated. I am judged. I am wrong.

I long. I long for closeness. I long to forget. Forget my plans, my duties. I long to do something once without consideration, without thought, on pure instinct; get drunk and give in to a stranger for a moment of pleasure, moment of closeness, moment of thoughtlessness.

The morning after I will wake up. I will wake up with myself. I will be judged. I will be separated. I will be wrong.

They do. I plan. They feel. I am. They get taken care of. I take care. They live. I long...