Saturday, August 30, 2014

On a Happy Note


Originally Posted Thursday, March 13, 2014

On a happy note--the tulips enjoyed the tonic water, I think.  They have grown and opened and done what cut tulips are supposed to do.  And tonic water has the added advantage of being clear in the vase and thus unobtrusive.  There is more I can turn into a happy report as well.  My new dishwasher arrived yesterday.  It is a gem.  The fellow who came to install it was older than I, hair completely white, his body a bit stiff.  I wondered at his age and how he does it.  He asked me where the breaker box was and I took him around the house.  When he opened the lid--KABOOM!--sparks flew, there was a loud explosion, and smoke charred the box.  He was glad he didn't have a firm grip on the lid, he said.  I was hoping his heart was good.  It took out the power to about 1/4 of the house including the air conditioner.  Fortunately, the day was pleasant if a little humid.  He was able to continue the installation while I called electricians. 

Did you know there was a shortage of electricians?  I called four big places and none of them could send anyone out that day.  Finally I found one that thought they might be able to send one out in the afternoon.  I spent the rest of the day fretting.  What if he had to replace the box?  Surely he couldn't do that in a single day.  I would be without television, heat and a.c. (you need both this time of year in my hometown).  Fortunately, I still had the internet.  I needed it as I sat and waited for the electrician's call. And in the very late afternoon, he finally arrived.  With trepidation and worry, I showed him the box and told him what happened. 

"The screw probably touched a wire when you opened it," he said. 

I wondered if this was bad or good.  He opened the front of the box and said, "Yes."  He showed me the wire, the plastic cap melted completely.  He was a good man.  It took him five minutes to fix the problem.  What a fellow! 

Of course the bill was $114.00. 

I decided to be happy about it rather than lament.  Everything was working.  I'd lost the day, but I'd gained. . . something.  I had a new dishwasher.  I called my mother who got the same one as I, or rather I got the same one as she. 

"Did yours get installed?  How old do you think the installer was?" 

"76." 

"You asked him?"

"Yes." 

"Jesus.  I don't think I'd want to do what he does.  He was down on his back and belly looking around and hooking things up."

"He says he does a couple a day."

It cost $90 for him to bring the new one, take the old one, and install everything. 

"I wonder how much of that money he gets to keep.  I tipped him $10 since he almost got killed.  The money is probably all under the table.  He's got to be getting social security." 

Everybody is not like me.  Hardly anyone is.  I am lazy and not practical.  I'd bet the fellow never once in his life thought to himself, "I feel depressed," let alone said it out loud to anyone.  Practical Paul, the stuff that made the country great.  Any country.  Guys like him are the backbone.  Me. . . I'm a brain.  That's how I see it, anyway. There are backbones and there are brains, and then there are rotten little extremities that need to be doctored. 

In the late afternoon, I went to the studio where I had planned to work all day.  I did some organizing and sleeving of prints and talked to the artist in the studio across the lot behind me.  I'd lost a day that wouldn't come back, but it turned out o.k.  I poured a vodka and sat on the studio couch and thought about things.  I looked at two film cameras that hadn't worked when I tried to shoot outside the day before and figured out what was wrong.  I un-boxed a strobe light I had bought on eBay to replace one that has been acting squirrely.  I marveled at the number of big, beautiful prints I have.  Where did they all come from?  When?  How many hours do I have invested in making all of this?  It felt good.  It felt like no one had ever done this much.  I didn't think anyone could ever catch up.  That is what happens when you work at a thing, when you are diligent. 

I began to think about dinner.  I needed to buy coffee beans before I went home.  I thought that I would make something simple and light.  In this new time, it was lighter and later than I thought.  At eight o'clock, there was still the afterglow of the day.  I was alright, I thought.  Everything turned out O.K.

Cooler


Originally Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I will make photos based on this series by Nadar. Youth needs to be measured, regulated.  There are things that need determining.  They need to be subjected to the old wisdom.  They are scary little devils who must learn to respect authority.  If you are in doubt, read this.  In part, it queries, "On Quora, the popular question-and-answer site that has become something of a weather vane for the technorati, one member asks, 'What do people in Silicon Valley plan to do once they hit 35 and are officially over the hill?'"

The real question for me, though, is what do people under thirty-five who have not made it into the upper quartile do?  Apparently they won't buy houses or cars, and they won't shop at Costco (link).  That's bad news if you are thinking of selling your house in the future.  They are not tied to the old ways of thinking.  Hipster culture may be more dangerous to you than you think.  However, they may be a source of evil pleasure, too (link).  A new "in-depth" study shows that sex outsells drugs in most major cities, and you know those entrepreneurs are not over thirty-five. 

They will be, though, and the gap between the millennial haves and have-nots is going to be their problem.  We can begin to realize that the gap between the wealthy and the poor will be exacerbated in the coming years.  All that the poor will have left is the dream of being Justin Bieber cool.  They can hope to be discovered on YouTube.  Or as people over thirty-five most likely call it, The YouTube. 

The good news, I guess, is that adults are becoming more like children in their use of attention deficit hyperactivity meds (link).  Adderall.  It is a gateway drug to staying in touch with your addled children.  I'm tired of looking for the links, but it seems that cancer is about to become the number one killer in the U.S., so kids, don't say we didn't give you anything.  All those chemicals that make you so strong and pretty are probably going to kill you, too.  But like Roy in "Blade Runner," "revel in your time.  The candle that burns brightest. . . ."  Etc.  And you wonder why we are a sleep-deprived nation?  Oh. . . that is much worse for you than you might have thought, too(link).   

The tough part is going to be finding parents who will let me use their children for my series.  Perhaps I will have to offer them payment.  Adderall.  I'll stock up.  I'll buy them phone apps.  I'll tell them their kids will be as cool and famous as Justin Bieber. 

I was sleep deprived for a few days, but no more.  I drank a bottle of wine with an old girlfriend then went to an expensive dinner where I drank a flight of beers.  Home early enough, I had a couple scotches then headed off to bed taking a big hit of Musenix to help break up the cough that has been plaguing me for five weeks.  Slept ten hours and could have slept more. 

No shit.  The world just keeps getting cooler and cooler.

The Best Systems in the World


Originally Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014


It went just as I predicted, except for Daylight Savings Time.  I woke at seven-thirty needing to be at the dee arrs office at eight.  I poured a cup of coffee to go and headed for the door.  There, I filled out forms for ten minutes then sat for half an hour.  How do they get forty minutes behind first thing in the morning you wonder?  What will the rest of the day look like?  Eventually I got called back to the observation room where I filled out another set of forms and got measured--height and weight--while the "assistant" (surely she wasn't a qualified nurse) explained to me how to put on the gown.  "The opening goes in the back," she said helpfully.  Then I was taken for an X-Ray by a woman who told me she was my age and then launched into a recounting of seeing a Bee Gees concert that was fabulous.  I didn't know what to say, so I said nothing.  She took this as a sort of personal affront, I think, and maybe it was.  I didn't want to be the same age as she.  I didn't want to rely on "these people" for anything.  It is horrible. 

After the X-Rays, she took me back to the observation room and told me "God Bless," or something equally ideological.  It was early.  I wasn't myself.  I was silent. 

In a little while, an Asian man came in.  I knew he wasn't the dee arr I had an appointment with, and surely, he wasn't.  He was a P.A.  He came to explain my X-Rays.  Well--X-Ray, for he only showed one.  He didn't seem to have an especial interest in it as he pointed out that I had some arthritis in my knee.  He had me lie down and he moved my leg until it hurt and then pushed on it in several places until it hurt.  He told me that I might have a tear in the meniscus, but they would need to do an MRI to determine that.  I simply said, "O.K." to that and he left the room telling me to get dressed and giving me directions to the outer world.  Someone would call me to schedule the MRI.  Later that day, someone did.  I could come Friday night, I was told, early or late.  My appointment with the dee arr was two weeks distant. 

I never even saw an orthopod of any sort. 

But I bet you dollars to donuts that they billed me for one.  Or my insurance, I should say.  I can't wait to see what that little fiasco cost.  They didn't need the X-Ray to tell me I had arthritis (which is not my problem anyway).  Anyone my age has arthritis in his knee.  It was the ripoff, the scam.  They needn't have seen me at all (they being anyone who was not a dee arr) except for the money.  I could have gone straight to the MRI. 

Whatever.  Ask any Republican.  We have the best healthcare system in the world.  And they are probably right.  It is quite a "system."  As for healthcare, though. . . .

The fellow who lives across the street from me is a dee arr.  He drives a $150,000 automobile.  I want to bump it. 

All I really want is to be able to run.  I will have to wait to see how that pans out. 

It is seven o'clock in the morning and black as night.  Daylight Savings Time fucks with me in the wrong way.  I woke up this morning at four-thirty which would be three-thirty, right?  Why?  Tossed around in bed until five-thirty (four-thirty real time).  I haven't had any trouble sleeping for months.  I don't understand the effect.  But surely you are feeling it, too. 

I've had a pot of coffee, and now, I think, I'll go back to bed.  The sun should rise sometime soon, and I will dream through the morning for awhile.  And tonight I will take a sleep aid to counter our time management system.  It is the best in the world.

We Are Spring


Originally Posted Monday, March 10, 2014

I'll write this late afternoon as I know I will not have time tomorrow, needing to be, as I do, at the orthopod's office at 8:00 a.m. which in real time will be 7 fucking a.m. in the morning.  I have exercised my legs, however, and have continued to gently stretch and it may just be that it is a tad bit better.  I will explain to the orthopod that I am not necessarily there for surgery.  I just want to get better.  My saying, however, will make little difference.  It is my deciding that will. 

I must have had something yesterday and most of this morning.  I felt like poop and was depressed on top, but after a good workout at the gym, I am feeling as chipper as I have for days.  Mother will be here in half an hour for a good spaghetti dinner while the sun is out and the air is as perfect as the light. We will dine outdoors.  And. . . oh, we will be something. 

I bought tulips at the grocer's, cut them, and put them in. . . all I had was tonic water.  I hope that is what they like. 

While I was feeling sick and blue today, I decided to sit at the computer and try to find some new techniques for working on my images. Here is one (that I can see right now is slightly off) of the experiments. It is nothing I will do regularly, but I must have learned something in the making.  My pretty little 'yentle.  She was pleased, she said. 

My college roommate is out of the hospital.  Tests tell him he is fine, so the dee arrs put him on more meds. . . just to be safe.  I want to tell him to quit it and take his chances, but I can't do anything like that, so I tell him what people say in such circumstances.  I ask if there is anything I can do. 

It is gloriously beautiful while I write.  I want to do something.  I want to do something bad.  I want to do something bad.  It is spring break and bike week and who knows what all here.  Badness is everywhere.  It abounds.  It is the call of life, this Spring.  We are Bacchanalian, we are Dionysian.  We are the sap that rises and the creeks that begin to flow.  We are in bloom.  We are nature. 

Boring Blog of Misery


Originally Posted Sunday, March 9, 2014

I know you are waiting to hear more about my health woes.  I got sick again yesterday, a new cold on top of the old flu.  I think.  I was going to take my mother to get a new dishwasher early yesterday morning.  I was getting one, too.  The battery in the car has been on its last legs, but I thought it had enough juice for a bit longer.  When I went to start the car, though, in the southern cold, it wouldn't turn over.  I called my mother and had her come over to give me a jump.  She was full of advice, telling me all the things that I should have done and should be doing, all nonsense.  She followed me to the Firestone store where I dropped the car off for them to install a new, expensive battery.  Then I got into my mother's car.  She drove.  I haven't ridden with my mother for a while, and it has become an even scarier experience. Pulling onto the highway, changing lanes. . . all life-threatening.  And she loves the gas and brakes.  We got to the appliance store, though, where she was her usual rough hillbilly self when it comes to salesmen.  She is a product of poverty and the depression, and she, like my father, will order food by the price so that there is no mistake.  But this salesman had seen people like my mother for the thirty years he had worked at this store.  It is one of the old established places that has been around since my town was Crackerville run by southern good old boys.  Sure. . . but if they were screwing people, they wouldn't still be around.  Eventually my mother settled on one of the cheaper ones which I got as well to make her feel safe and good.  "I'll get what you get mom." 

I told her I would take her to breakfast, so we got back into the car for Death Ride II.  I wasn't feeling so good at the diner and had little appetite for my breakfast.  By the time we had finished and had driven back to the Firestone store, I was feeling pretty bad.  "I think I'm car sick," I told my mother.  She had a habit of using the gas and the brake in pretty sudden ways.  It was cool outside but hot in the car.  I don't know.  I thought maybe it had all gotten to me. 

Back at home, I felt weak and went back to bed.  Maybe a nap will fix it, I thought.  In the middle of a most gloriously beautiful day, I slept for three hours.  When I got up, I knew I wasn't right.  At the studio in the late afternoon, I tried to shake it, but it wouldn't be shook.  I poured a vodka and sat on the couch looking through some photo books.  The doors were open.  The air was perfect.  I was rotten. 

I had only soup for dinner.  I watched a little t.v. and went to bed. 

I woke with the sun just coming up over the horizon.  The birds were singing.  The clocks had changed.  It was eight o'clock.  Shit, shit. . . fucking Daylight Savings.  Have you ever heard anyone who said they loved changing the time, just loved shifting the hours back and forth during the year? 

I go to have my knee examined at eight o'clock tomorrow morning.  My body will say seven.  My mind will say "fuck you." 

That is all the good news I have.  This has become a boring blog of misery.  You only have to read it, though, and not even that.  Imagine living it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Millennials


Originally Posted Saturday, March 8, 2014


Millennials.  I love them.  They are more everything than the generations that came before.  They are bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, prettier. . . . They are post-racial.  They are connected.  I was talking with the girl in this picture the other night.  Remember 9-11?  She was seven.  You know the impact it had on you?  Not her.  Oh, it has its impact, of course, but not in the same way.  Pick a twenty-something off the street.  Just grab one by the arm and ask him or her what the defining cultural moment was in his/her life.  They are poor.  They get by on less than their parents did at their age.  They are in debt up to their eyebrows.  Remember how bad things looked for Generation X?  It looks like a 24/7 party to them.  They are more liberal than you are.  They are less well-read.  They are less likely to cling to the voodoo that drove their parents and their parent's parents.  They don't have health insurance.  They aren't as affiliated with political parties. 

O.K.  That's enough with the generalizations.  You can look this stuff up for yourself, or you can read this article from today's N.Y. Times. 

Which brings me to this.  Belle Knox, the Duke University Porn "Star."  She is not a star yet, but surely she is on her way. 




I've chosen to post a pretty picture of her.  She's cute.  She's eighteen.  She is well-spoken.  She is a Millennial.  I have a weakness for her and her ilk.  And, of course, I would love to make pictures with her.  But it is her attitude that fascinates me.  She wants to be a women's rights attorney, she says.  She wants to liberate the world from its fear of nudity.  I'm glad she is doing it now.  When she gets to be my age, such a thing would be reprehensible. 

Driving home yesterday, I was three cars back at a stop sign.  Nobody was going.  Two boys, one black, one white, were having a fistfight.  A big group of kids were standing around them, cheering.  They were from the ninth grade center down the street, and they were pretty good.  The white kid was taller and thinner than the thicker black kid.  They both could hit and take a punch.  They had skills.  It was pretty impressive.  I was going to break it up, but I am ashamed to say that I was a bit hypnotized by it all.  Just as I opened my door to get out, a black man in his seventies got out of his car and walked in between them.  I was worried for him, but the boys were probably getting tired and neither of them had a clear advantage, so they both might have been relieved.  Their faces were bloodied and already beginning to swell.  I hate to say it, but I grew up this way.  There were big fights after school often enough.  I was in a few.  I knew the feeling of walking away immediately afterwards, heart still charging, already reliving the punches, thinking of what you might have done differently, the bumps on your face feeling ten times bigger than they are.  For Millenials, some things are still the same. 

I prefer Belle's rebellion, of course, but truth is there will always be both.  The Ahabs of the world want to rid the cosmos of evil, and they will take the whole crew down with them in their hellish pursuit of Moby Dick.  They are the scary ones.  They have a deep-seated hatred in them.  They are vile and villainous to their rotten little cores.  There are no solutions to what the world is made of.  The world is not a problem to be solved.  All we can do is navigate it and hope we can help it out in some way. 

The world is just wild at heart and weird on top.  Really. . . all there is to do is love.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Escape from Tyranny


Originally Posted Friday, March 7, 2014


Is it childish to be nostalgic?  It seems I was born that way and have never grown out of it.  It is a malady that strikes many, I would say, as companies have grown up exploiting it.  The J. Peterman catalog still uses the quote from its original ad when their only product was a horsehair duster:

"People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them."
 I would have to use the word "factual" in quotes to make it apply to my own sensibilities.  Factual, say, like a Bartle Bull novel.  I have a childish love that takes me romantically back to a recreated, artificially crafted time that represents maybe 1% of the reality.

Today sees the opening of Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel."  I've been sold since I watched the trailer a couple months ago.  Here is a scene from the movie narrated by Anderson himself.    The Time's reviewer, A.O. Scott, says:
"Mr. Anderson embraces this nostalgia — [a beautiful, fragile Central European civilization was all but demolished, surviving mainly as the ghostly object of nostalgic longing] — for a bygone modernity of railway compartments, telegrams and handmade luggage; of louche aristocrats, discreet bellhops and ruddy-faced workingmen; of painting and poetry and psychoanalysis — but he also tries to work through it, to capture some of the vitality and peculiarity of a vanished world."
 That is it, isn't it, this desire to capture a "vanished world."  It is impossible, we know, for it never existed, at least not in the way of representation.  But it was real and did exist in small, tangible ways.  There are remnants in stories and poems and paintings, and in bits and pieces of flotsam and jetsam, old jewelry and pieces of clothing and the very handmade luggage of which Scott speaks.  It has to be as real as the Mastodon and its "vanished world."

Perhaps there is a Loch Ness Monster, too.

Scott's summary is that. . . "This movie makes a marvelous mockery of history, turning its horrors into a series of graceful jokes and mischievous gestures. You can call this escapism if you like. You can also think of it as revenge."

The revenge of which he speaks is against tyranny.  And therein lies the power and purpose, in part, of art--an escape from tyranny.

I received word this morning that an old friend is in the hospital.  They are running tests to see what's wrong.  I shall go and sit with him a bit.  I will need the movie as soon as I can see it so that I may avert my eyes from the tyranny a while longer. 

Up to Date


Originally Posted Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm certain you are waiting with bated breath to learn more about my physical maladies.  Wait no longer.  I have made an appointment to see an orthopod.  As expected, I couldn't get in until Monday.  I figured that was O.K., though, as I don't want to go anyway.  Maybe my knee will heal in the night and I can cancel the appointment.  But I don't think so.  This is all crazy, though, for there was no trauma other than standing up from the toilet.  A little pop, and then the next day. . . . And now I can't put weight on it.  It has gotten progressively worse.  I will see if the doc can save it.  I still want to play in the NBA. 

Now you are up to date. 

But that I have fear and trembling.  Woke up in the night with it and can't quite figure out why.  There are lots of possibilities, but I am not sure which is responsible.  I just feel anxiety and trepidation.  I want a small room with a single bed where I can just curl up and face the wall.

Now you are up to date. 

It's all fun and games until someone gets their eye poked out. 

Perhaps I just have too much and nobody to take care of it.  It wears me out to be master and servant.  I live like royalty and like a serf.  I must service all the things that make me look prosperous.  In the studio, I work with a lot of people who don't have much of anything.  I pity and envy them.  The car may break down, but they don't always mind leaving it by the side of the road.  They may have a shitty nothing job, but all they have to do is show up.  Serve the drinks and go over to a co-workers house and play party games until four.  The refrigerator breaks.  Call the landlord and think of moving to Portland.  No hooks, no ties. 

I am the landlord.  I will pay for the new fridge.  I can't walk from the job and find another one that pays as much.  I don't like to stay up 'til four.  My neighbors are more prosperous. 

Now you are up to date.

Living in Babylon


Originally Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I have blown out my knee and can barely walk.  I can't walk without extreme pain.  I will have to listen to the experts.  I will call to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor today.  I hate it.  They already know what they will do to me before I walk in the door.  The doctor, if s/he were honest, could tell you now.  Of course there will be the hour of sitting in the waiting room, then another half hour with the occasional nurse giving me more paperwork to fill out or to take my temperature, then the doctor him/herself will walk in with the canned greeting and the questions about what's wrong, where the pain is.  An MRI will be scheduled.  I will come back for the hour in the waiting room, the rigamarole, the MRI.  I will come back and sit in the waiting room for an hour before I see the doctor who will have the MRI results.  Then I will be told there is some tearing and some scarring and s/he will recommend some arthroscopic procedure to "clean it up."  Then we will schedule that and I will go wherever. . . .  and a month after I was supposed to be healed, the sonofabitch will still be fucked up. 

Fuck me. 

But I don't think I can fix this one on my own.  I think I am out of options.  I will put my knee in someone else's hands.  It is truly an act of faith. 

I read a prediction/warning that was attributed to scientists that global warming and the thawing of the Arctic tundra will bring back ancient viruses in the world that have long been extinct.  Well. . . there is that to look forward to. 

I am living in Babylon with nowhere to hide. 

Like Steve McQueen


Originally Posted Tuesday, March 4,  2014

I've written two crummy posts that I deleted since I promised to give you things with more meat than a seventeen year old's tweets.  I can't deliver.  I have no profound observations today, only opinions and attitudes.  It is like that sometimes.  I should never promise anything.  It is like saying I'll get skinny and handsome.  It is like saying I want to fly.  Like Steve McQueen. 



Ellen Degeneres Officially Ends the Era of Selfies


Originally Posted Monday, March 3, 2014


I am finally and irrevocably convinced that I have gotten sick from eating takeout from my favorite Thai restaurant.  More than once.  I had my suspicions, but now I feel certain.  I got takeout on Saturday, and last night I began to catch a cold.  This just after not quite getting over the flu. I am sneezing and blowing with the new thing this morning and coughing from the lingering effects of what I had before.  My back hurts, my knee is misery, and there are many other things besides.  I saw a photograph of Bill Murray at the Oscars this morning.  He is approximately my age, the Age of Horror.  I just want to feel good again.  I may never be pain-free, but I would at least like to be able to trot.  A trotter I will be even if I can't pull off a full-blown sprint. 

Whatever.  Fucking End of Winter.  It is killing me. 

I want to give you loveliness.  I want to give you beauty.  What I am giving is the sort of thing you could read on a seventeen year old's Twitter account.  I will try not to do this again. 

I read that Ellen Degeneres took the world's most tweeted selfie at the Oscars last night.  I've said for a number of year's now that selfies are the most important form of photography.  That period is now over.  Finished.  Kaput.  They are no longer new and cool.  No more selfies.

If only they had all been naked. 

Q sent me a link to Vermeer-like photographs yesterday.  He wanted to know why I couldn't shoot nice photos like that. 

I will try.

A.A.


Originally Posted Sunday, March 2, 2014

I read this on Ellen Rogers' Blog yesterday:


I spend most if not all my time working on my photography, almost every minute I'm awake is used to feed my addiction to making artwork.To the point that I feel mechanical, void of friends and quite often, meaningful interaction.If I'm not in the darkroom I'm answering emails pertaining to my work, defending my work, working on post production, scanning, planning a shoot, traveling to a shoot, etc. I don't do anything else.
 Ditto.  Except I have the factory, too.  She, to be fair, must make her living from her work which must be a little torture in and of itself.  No, not little.  It must be big.  Are there days when she collapses and thinks, "I'm done.  I'm going to get a job."?  Certainly there are. 

There are days when I want to quit doing this, quit making pictures and writing and simply go back to a life of. . . hell, I don't remember what.  I am busy all the time to the point of exhaustion and I don't keep up with many friends, but the people I meet and the things I've learned from them are profoundly great experiences.  And the culmination of it, the words and the images, make me happy.  But something more than "happy," too. 

I wonder if I would do more and better if I could spend "every minute I'm awake. . . to feed my addiction to making artwork."  I think so. 

Today is Sunday and I wonder if I will take the day to relax. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the air is soft and sweet.  I walked yesterday for the first time in three weeks (no gym, no exercise--nothing), and I will do that and some other small exercises today as I begin my trek back to health and well-being.  It will take time, and I have gotten used to being ill and sitting with my images working them into something that I more or less like.  I've even created some new practices that make the work a little richer, I think.  Will I be willing to stay away from that today?  Rogers' words sit on my back like a saddle. 

It is too nice not to go and play, though.  I will do it now.  Health and happiness must be our first goal, right?  But William Vollman has written so chronically that his whole body has become deformed by it.  Van Gogh went mad from the paints.  Matisse lay ill in his bed with a long pole brush so he could paint canvases on the ceiling.  It is like a drug, I think.  It is an addiction. 

Ellen, I will write you.  I will begin a new program--Artists Anonymous.  A.A.  It will be a support group to help wean you off the obsession.  I will send you my number.  Any time you begin to feel the need to start "using" again, you can call.  I will talk you down  It will help. 

O.K.  Sunshine and fresh air are calling.