Recently I was at a UCLA 2018 commencement ceremony.
During this process the National Athem was beautifully played. We were told to stand up and put our hand over our heart.
Thinking of the children inconceivably taken from their mothers at the border, I sat.
A few sat. Most of the thousands stood and looked at us sitting as if we were in the wrong.
And then, that Melanie Trump’s jacket. OMG.
It’s hard to believe this is really happening. How to stop it?
Clearly, it’ll take more than sitting
Chapel of the Chimes is a gorgeous building built by the visionary architect Julia Morgan. It is also a crematorium. It is a maze of beautiful little rooms where the walls are filled with the remains of the once living.
I am at this place because my friend is playing music in one of the rooms. Lots of people are playing music in lots of the rooms. It is the annual summer solstice ritual. There are a couple of thousand people along with me moving through the rooms and up and down the stairs. These people are very alive and a good crowd too: kids, twenty somethings on up to the 7os. Interesting people at an interesting event. Lots of good outfits.
The event changes the surroundings; still I am fascinated by the storage of the dead. These remains are housed in fake metal books with the dates of said life on the metal binding. These are the dates of their story. Some people paid more and have bigger books. Some people have little framed photos of themselves by their books. A snapshot taken not at the end of their life, but some prime time in the story. Some have objects next to the books: cars, baseball hats, Mickey Mouse dolls and such.
Our wristbands showing we’ve paid and can come and go as we alive people please are a bandaid color. Weird. There are alcoves with water fountains and strange triangular metal cones. You can put water and flowers in these and then slip it through the circular ring beside your friend or relative’s book. I notice one book that has no flower (most don’t) but has one dirty white sock instead. It’s not a regular sock but one with two holes in it. Holes like you’d put a shoelace through. It looks like what I remember a planeria to look like. I am remembering said biological creature as a very beginning creature. Not one with a story. But who knows?
Some people are not in books. They are in vases. Urns. My mother’s ashes and bone fragments are in a beautiful urn. My good friend made the ceramic pot and top. I glazed it in my mother’s favorite colors. It is not visible in a crematorium but buried in the ground for no one to see. So I show it to you here.
Back to the memorabilia. It doesn’t seem to me that this stuff is what makes a life. It’s the invisible non object that is more important. One’s effect on people and vice versa. The love. To me, that’s what makes a life in this dream we are all co creating.
Sometimes I even wonder if the space things are happening in is more important than what is happening and to whom it is happening. I imagine this space to be a unified unindividuated force field of love.
Keeping the little story going
“Would you like to come up and see my etchings?”
I draw daily. I have been drawing my entire life. I pick up a pen or pencil and draw on a piece of paper. Sometimes I photograph it and print it or post it on social media. I often draw (and paint) on the iPad. Quick and easy. No paper, no pencil, no photography. I can print the image in minutes. I can print hundreds of images in minutes. I can even blow up the thing 3×4 feet and print it in minutes. No big deal.
Not so with etching! Haha! Took me 3 hours to prepare a zinc plate 6×8 inches! First I must bevel and file all the edges, using the metal tool to get rid of the sharp metal edge (which would otherwise rip the blanket on the printing press). Then I spend a couple hours polishing the metal until it shines like a mirror. It is an activity requiring enough effort to make my arm sore the next day. All of this activity is equivalent to opening the iPad or grabbing a piece of paper.
Next, metal tool on now shiny metal surface, I scratch in my drawing. Believe it or not, that’s the easy part!
Once the drawing is done, I ink up the plate. This also takes forever and has to be done “just so”. I want to take the oil base ink off the clear places but keep it in the drawn lines. It is one of the messiest things I’ve ever done. Gloves are discouraged because at one point I use the natural oil of my hand in the final wiping of the plate. Finally I print.
Amazingly enough after all that work a dry point plate will yield TEN exactly the same prints. 20 if you are a genius. After that I can still get an image but not the consistent kind that is required for an edition. Wow!
Talk about old school! This is the original old school; as in hundreds of years ago with Rembrandt and the boys. It’s amazing. I’m hooked. I’ve only been doing this for a week but I intend to eventually be making good prints. What objects of quality they will be.
Also, here is a shout out for my teacher CHARLIE CHAVEZ at Laney Community College in Oakland. It doesn’t get better than Charlie. The man has infinite knowledge and enormous presence. It is an honor to be studying with him.
Not my usual crowd: beautiful young women with piercings and tattoos and jeans or stockings heavily ripped with beautiful babies in tow, the kind that are 2ish. All kinds of others are also at the laundromat. Each clearly with their own story and their own clothes, like me.
The last laundromat I used kicked me out so to speak; not really because I’d already finished washing my two turbo loads and was leaving. Said I wasn’t allowed to come back. Said the clay reside from my kids clay projects was making the place dirty. Hello. People come there to wash dirty things and mine aren’t dirty enough to even need detergent. Anyhow I only do this three times a year and that was 4 months ago. Therefore I am not going to said but going towards downtown to the in-between hood with the bigger, seedier yet more expensive laundromat.
I have enough canvas mats covering studio tables to make them heavy enough to warrant three trips to the car. The parking lot is an experience not separate from the mat. When the tiny kids run into the street, it’s ok because the street is the parking lot which is the car, which is perhaps also the home; a small traveling home complete with vibrant small plants growing in brilliantly painted small pots on the dashboard.
A gentleman of hard to dicier ethnicity and age entering the open door questions loudly to anyone who might care to answer, “What time is it”? Another guy answers “Ten of Six”. I say, “Wow, so late”. I was thinking it was maybe 3:30, Sunday time.
The questioner says “So early”and he sits on the bench eating a candy bar with such comfort that I wonder if he is even there to wash clothes. A little later he notices that a woman has dropped a sock loading her machine. He says “You dropped your sock” but she doesn’t hear him because she has huge headphones on. Rather than shouting an entering question, his voice is whipsy now, old and frail, offering advice from a bench. ” You dropped your sock”, he says again with a little effort but still she can’t hear. The third time succeeds. In a way he cared and it was pleasant to be around that caring.
After all the jumbo washing and drying, I was carrying the clean and folded mats to my car. When I was leaving with the second pile he said to me, “Goodbye. Nice to see you again.” I agreed. It was pleasant, even though it didn’t make sense because I’d never been there before.
It was a beautiful day such that my mind got the idea “a lovely day to wash the car”. So I went to the car wash on my way home. There were an easy 16 cars with the same idea, (it’s a big place). I soon realized the flaw in my reasoning and drove home where I washed my car. Inside and out. Carefully. Not in a hurry. I enjoyed myself in the beautiful day. I loved my car.
I remembered hearing Amma speak recently on the different vibrations accompanying different thoughts and ideas, emotions even. Of course it’s a no brainer that love is the highest nd strongest frequency.
Therefore I wondered if my car would run better since I washed it.
Still out by my car in my driveway, the girls next door come home. We are a house away, all in front of our perspective cars and houses. “Hi Sally”.”Hi Dana”. Their mother and I both acknowledge that summer is going just fine. The older girl pops out of the back seat with a big dark pink bag. “Hi Betty”. “Shopping spree?”. The little one says, “It’s for me. It’s an “American girl doll”.
“It comes in a cool bag. Be sure to save that bag.”