Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to Everyone!
I'm hopeful that 2017 will be a better year than 2016. At least for me, personally, and for several other people who I know have suffered similar ordeals to mine this past year.  The political landscape appears dire, and there are certainly going to be ongoing struggles -- some of which I can hardly believe we're having to fight. But regardless of whether your fight is personal, political, both or otherwise, there is always hope. Hope, which sometimes is a thing with feathers, for sure. But more often, at least for me, it's a thing with shining scales and sharp gnashing teeth, relentlessly beating wings and deadly talons. Hope is always there, with its battle scars, its eyes gleaming in the dark, knowing that it just needs to BIDE ITS TIME.

"There's a starman waiting in the sky
He's told us not to blow it
'Cause he knows it's all worthwhile" - David Bowie

"Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish life was never ending
And all good things, they say, never last" - Prince

"There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Stand up. Corporations and the PEOPLE hiding behind them cannot be allowed to create inhumane conditions on Earth anymore. Especially in America, their insane grip ranges from fuel to food to housing to healthcare to human rights... The list of their crimes is endless, both past and present.

For the rest of the time that our sun lights up this jewel of a planet, we need to focus our efforts on sustainable technologies like solar and wind. Yes, we may still need to use up what we have already taken, but there is no reason at all for anyone to build NEW pipelines, or design NEW gas-guzzling vehicles, or drill in NEW places for MORE oil. All of those technologies are already obsolete. Just stop it.

Winona Laduke says it better than I ever could.

So enjoy this day with family and/or friends. Think about what you're thankful for (I know I have a lot to think about and a lot to be thankful for). And think also about what you don't need, and what you shouldn't take, and what you shouldn't allow yourself the luxury of having.

We can't fix everything all at once, and each person can only do so much, but choose a battle that matters to you, and fight it. If everyone does something that is rooted in selfless compassion, maybe our species will deserve to survive for a little bit longer.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bathroom Re-vamp

Of course, as it would for anyone, the move did not come without its share of ridiculously hard work and epic chaos (and messiness!). I had to renovate a bathroom. I'd wanted to do it forever, but kept having to procrastinate. However, taking on a housemate made it imperative that it get done immediately, so I was thrilled to have a deadline. I painted, I cleaned, I did mosaics, we hung a curtain rod, I shopped for curtains, I safety-and-border-taped, I removed paint from where it shouldn't be, I spray painted, I stenciled, I attached knobs... the list goes on and on. But even though I worked SO hard on it, it's still not done. But the fixes are minor and the bathroom is totally functional, and dare I say, kinda pretty!

I don't have a collection of complete before shots. I don't even think I took a photo of the original bathroom. But basically it had layers and layers of old wallpaper which had been painted over in an unfortunate shade of pinky-mauve. So I removed all those layers and discovered some pretty old and interesting black polka-dot wallpaper underneath. I would guess that it's from the 1930s or something. All of this demolition work was done before the accident. There's no way I could have done it now, at this state in my healing, so it was good that that part was out of the way. Anyway, I wanted to somehow use these old polka-dots in my new design, so when I hired the plaster guy I told him "Don't do the whole thing -- just these parts." In retrospect I probably should have had him do the entire ceiling. I ended up painting it all black anyway, but these are things that you run into as you go, so I won't be too hard on myself. Besides, I can always have that part skim coated at some point in the future if the black painted paper up there begins to fail. For now, I think it looks fine.

This project and fixing up and packing in general took EVERY ounce of energy I had.

Here are some before pictures (after the skim coat plaster work had been completed).

And here is the almost-finished result! I still have to varnish the back of the door, and grout the mosaic, and fix the soap dish -- but these are things I'll look forward to doing when I go to Philly the next time!

Ahhh, Memories...

I had already decided to move back to Austin even before the accident, but the accident made it all the more urgent. But I loved my little house in Philly. I fixed it from top to bottom over the years that I lived there. I still have some things to do, but they'll have to wait. Because, as of now, I'm staying in Austin for a while! :) Meanwhile, I'm happy to be sharing my Philly place with a housemate, who in many ways shares and can appreciate my decorative flair!

Here are a few videos of my little spot before I began packing:

Thursday, July 21, 2016


"I love all the colors in the world."
"I love all the persons in the world."
"I am unusual. I am not like other people on earth. I know everything."
These are three (unrelated) things that my 4-year old nephew has said over the past six months or so. Even taken out of context, they are good examples of his open, loving, optimistic, and a little bit otherworldly nature. He has always reminded me of a cloud or a balloon. He is SO free and happy almost all of the time -- he shines with joy, and shakes off troubles.
When I was in the hospital after my accident, he also had to have surgery on his hand. Still, he came by to visit me, and made sure to cheer me up. He took my bandaged hand in his, and gleefully shouted: "Surgery Power!"

Yup, he drops wisdom like that all the time.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Thing of Love and Beauty

I posted on Facebook about the birthday spoils that I recently received on April 23rd. But I also received something else that I decided to write about here instead. There's some pertinent background info that is needed:

I had a birthday several years ago, as seems to be the custom on this planet. But being chronologically challenged as I am, I can't remember exactly when it was. I'm pretty sure that my nephew was only about two years old at the time and we were celebrating my birthday at his home. He gave me a present that he was so excited about -- he could barely contain himself as I unwrapped the tissue that held the gift. He was so excited that he even almost told me what it was before I opened it. His little belly sticking out and his arms and hands fluttering and his whole body quivering and wriggling with joy as he helped me with the wrapping -- "It's a pink stone shaped like a heart!" he practically shouted just as I finally removed the paper to reveal the treasure inside. Yes, he could speak in full sentences even though he was so little, and yes, that's what it was -- a beautiful, sweet, perfect heart made of rose quartz. He had carefully chosen it especially for me from a basket full of stone hearts at a store they had gone to. My sister told me that it was completely his idea to buy it for me for my birthday -- no one had pointed him in that direction; he had just known that it was the right gift for Auntie M. 

Well, I kept that little heart with me everywhere I went. It was in a little velvet pouch in my backpack for years. It came with me to my day job (The Mütter Museum), it came with me to the grocery store, it came with me on buses, the subway and on long walks, of course, since that was my primary mode of transportation. It even accompanied me on the many out-of-state trips that I made over the years to both Texas and California. Every time I got on a plane I held it in my hand for good luck. It was a well-traveled little pink heart of stone. But then one winter evening I discovered that the little pouch was gone, and so was the heart. It must've fallen out in the darkness, into the snow, without making a sound. Maybe it snagged on something as I pulled out a bus token or my keys or gloves. I looked everywhere for it, but it was nowhere to be found. I was so sad. I kept the loss a secret from my sister for the longest time because I hoped that it would turn up somewhere in my house. Maybe I had accidentally taken it out of my backpack when packing for a trip or something, right? Anyway, that's what I told myself, and that's what I hoped for many years. But the little heart never did show itself again. Hopefully, somewhere, someone found it and kept it in their backpack for good luck, or maybe they gave it to someone special in their life. That's what I hoped. All I knew was that I had lost one of my most precious possessions. And while I know that it was only a "thing," it was a thing given to me by someone I love more than I could ever express, and it was given to me because of his love for me, and because he knew I would appreciate it as much as he did. I often pictured how his little face looked when he gave it to me, lit-up and shining, and how his little body just couldn't stop wiggling around because he was so happy about what he had found for me. That's why I cared so much about this thing that was "only a thing."

Well, this year I also had a birthday, and this time my nephew had a more elaborate plan in mind. He is very into nature right now, and he had drawn and designed a tree, which my sister cut into a pattern and together they stuffed and sewed it. She is an expert seamstress, and he is learning, because, as he proudly showed me, he "stitched part of it himself." In addition to this tree, he said, I will eventually receive a tree that depicts each season. Summer, Spring, Fall, and Winter! I'll need to be patient, but someday I'll have the whole amazing set of four trees. But it gets even better, because inside the package with the tree was a little pouch. And inside the pouch? You guessed it: A little heart made of rose quartz! My sister had told him the sad story of the first heart, so he understood how much it meant to me that he chose a replacement. And trust me, he understands the complex nature of treasures and how they can bring happiness even though they're only things. So, it's "just" a "thing" but it isn't just a thing. It is a thing of love and beauty. And while I'm not the packrat I used to be, I love to look around me and see those kinds of things. Things that are beautiful, things that sparkle, things that I found unexpectedly or things that were given to me by someone I love. Those things are more than things, they are treasures. Here are my new ones:

The tree with the pouch and rose quartz heart.

A close-up of the heart.