Posts Tagged ‘journal’

“There are many more layers to innocence than one might ever imagine, and we are ever unaware of them until each barrier is breached.”― Paula ReedHester: The Missing Years of the The Scarlet Letter……..

Night Wind, graphite on paper A4, (8x10)…...

Night Wind, graphite on paper A4, (8×10)……

Part of the story, an aside……..

My brother, Number 5 (with me being number 1) of my siblings, lived in Houma with his Cajun princess bride. All of us had chipped in and made their wedding possible in the house in New Orleans. Only my aunt and myself were happy for him and his beautiful bride. The rest of my siblings, including Capitán, thought they could have picked someone better for him. There was great and inappropriate hatred expressed by sisters number 2, 3 and 6 that made the bride cry. It was both a happy and sad day.

So when my sister (number 6) came to New Orleans to stir the pot of evil with my aunt, her long fingers reached out to my brother. Unbeknown to her case manager she was mingling and meeting with the local drug lords and even some who had ventured from Miami to take advantage of her semi freedom. I saw her with these burly types who reeked of darkness; and when she involved my innocent and emotionally slow brother I felt she had gone too far and stepped forward. I tried to tell her case manager who laughed at me. I even called the local FBI to report her but her case manager had already notified her and she had contacted Capitán who was now in town, who told the FBI that I was jealous and trying to defame my poor sister in order to keep all the family money…. and they believed him and told me not to bother them again. (My family in New New Orleans did have some very powerful and corrupt contacts.)

So the evilness of it all began to take shape as my sister began to ply my brother with drugs and convince him to leave his wife and children and go back to Ecuador into the loving (?) arms of Capitán, the man who had emotionally tortured and abused him as a child.

When Michael called me and asked me what he should do, I immediately called sister #2 in Ecuador to ask what the devil was going on and why. My sister responded, ” You are not considered a member of this family and what we do is none of your business. If we need your help, someone will contact you and tell you what to do.”

Like hell they will, I told her…her need to dominate and control everything had just gone too far. “Remember”, I said, “when we were children and if we did not do what you wanted us to do you would tell us “do not speak to me further, you are dead in my eyes”? Well my dear sister, please consider yourself dead in MY eyes.”

I did what I could but one day Michael was gone and his wife called me in tears. There was nothing I could do. In his innocence he could not defend against all the lies they told him and once back in Ecuador, they took his passport and his life became misery as they tried to make him into something he could not be. It took him nearly 3 years to escape and return to his wife and children, but he was changed, his wife was changed, so much damage had been done that could not be reversed.

Although I stayed in touch with my sister-in-law during his absence and did what I could to help her, I did not see my brother again for many years. By that time I had disowned all my family and although I loved him dearly I could not keep contact with him for fear the family would use him to get to me, he never could understand that I was trying to protect him. We would both hug each other and cry.

It would be many more years later I would get a call; from sister #2 saying “Michael is near death and demands to talk to you.”

I said my tearful goodbyes and told him how much he was loved. I would only later learn from a stray conversation, that he was divorced and had stage 4-lung cancer.

I spoke to my sister-in-law once once a few years later when my mother died, but it was only a casual conversation about Michael’s share of the inheritance and since my mother had basically disinherited me, I could not answer any of her questions; I could only advise her to contact the attorney in charge of the estate.

I often wondered what happens when all the barriers to innocence are breached, do we take the remaining shards and try to hold onto the illusion of what we once held to be true? Or do we rebuild a new illusion that allows us to carry on as we discard the shroud that once tried to devour our souls?

What does happen to the dreamer when there are no more dreams?

“Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.”― Mineko Iwasaki

Quick Sketch, part of a Sketchbook Project, Brooklyn Library of Art.

Quick Sketch, part of a Sketchbook Project, Brooklyn Library of Art……

The story continues……

Well, sort of…… I have tried and tried to write this and the major result was panic attacks, and nightmares……that means the gory details need to be put back into the box for a while longer. But I did manage to get the first part done, the important part, the part that was the linchpin that consumed everyone and everything…..

The letter came without warning, there were no premonitions, no feelings of ripples in the force; but when it arrived my heart went cold with trepidation.

My youngest sister the omega to my alpha had been in a Jersey prison for over a year for new, continued and unabated crimes of money laundering, among other things, for the South American Cartel. She had led a life of crime, a sociopath, amoral to the nth degree, no concept of right or wrong, doing only what she wanted. I had always been there to rescue her one way or another when no one else would. I loved her fiercely and had always hoped beyond hope she would learn a lesson, any lesson but that was not her fate. My opinion did not change when I read the letter saying she had parole coming up and could she please spend it near family and would I write a letter saying I would accept responsibility for her.

We had just finished the renovation and rental of Nan’s boyfriends duplex. Her condition was deteriorating so we moved her out of the duplex where she had been living alone since her boyfriend’s death, into her old house with us. We were living there at the time, starting renovations. It was a beautiful but dilapidated Victorian in Mid City that had been splint into upper and lower apartments. We cleaned up most of the downstairs and had re-built the main staircase ourselves. Only one bedroom upstairs and the bath had been finished so we turned the front parlor into a bedroom/sitting room in which she would be comfortable. Things were moving along smoothly, my aunt was happy with her income, I continued to write speeches and invocations for her to use with the numerous women’s clubs to which she belonged. I had hired a daytime helper to aid in taking care of Nan since she was becoming very wobbly on her feet and this also allowed me more time to work on the renovations, help my aunt with her garden, do her cooking and other mundane everyday items.

I showed the ominous letter to my husband who immediately said “you can’t turn your back on your sister when she needs you most!” “Oh yes I can, this time is different.” I responded proclaiming my premonitions that I saw lying between the lines of the handwritten request. He persisted and I conceded by saying I would give it thought for a couple of days. However, he went behind my back and mentioned it to my aunt who deluged me with feelings of guilt. But I stood my ground and said, “If both of you want to recuse her once again so bad, then you write the letter”… and to my astonishment, they did. My husband writing he and I would take responsibility. Nothing I said would change their minds, both my husband and aunt stating, “it’s not as bad as you think!”

She arrived at a halfway house located near Mid City. Contrite, shamed and grateful, looking worn, pale, undernourished, but I knew most of it was all false pretense, I could feel the deception that shrouded her like a dark aura. I gave my best smile and said we would help as much as we could, knowing I would keep a very close eye on her.

It was just one week later when my aunt called me and asked me to come over to her house to meet with my sister’s probation officer. I knew something was terribly wrong for I felt my skin was crawling with imaginary spiders, and my heart was beating fast. I sat down at my aunt’s dining room table with my sister, my aunt and the probation officer as an appeal was made by my sister to move in with me so she could finish her parole closer to family and not isolated in the half-way house. Oh it was a sorrowful plea, and I said I was sorry but that was not possible, explaining the situation as logically and sympathetically as I could. Then my aunt stood up and looked at me with such distress, I cringed as she said, “How can you say something so mean and cruel! Of course she can live with family! I will take full responsibility!” I protested loudly stating again all the rational reason why this should not happen. But the parole officer had been blinded by my sister’s performance as a contrite and repentant person just looking for another change to do good that she immediately agreed to my aunt’s proposal, and accused me of being the kind of person my poor sister could do without.

The devils handmaiden has now taken control. Within a week the upstairs apartment was made ready and my sister moved into my aunt’s house with a smile.

I did my best to again explain my reasoning to my aunt and my husband, but both were oblivious to my pleas, both were overwhelmed by my sisters performance, her humility, her wretchedness. For the first time in my life I knew fear.

The crack in the mirror of my soul was so resounding, I thought perhaps an earthquake alert might be issued. No one had to tell me that I must now prepare for battle; no one had to tell me that I would stand alone with sword in hand. Once again, no one would believe a word I said, I could not stop what I knew was going to happen. So I did the only thing I could do, I went to the attorney who was handling Nan’s and my aunts affairs, the one person who would take me seriously, advised him of the situation, the potential danger and together we closed any and all loopholes, any cracks that might let the dark fog of evil destroy the sanctuary that had been created to protect my two aunts and the money……..

…….The rest of the story I will continue later in bullet points.

Red Sky, oil on canvas, 91x152 cm (36x60

Red Sky, oil on canvas, 91×152 cm (36×60)

“Again I see you, but me I don’t see! The magical mirror in which I saw myself has been broken, And only a piece of me I see in each fatal fragment – …”

Fernando Pessoa, Poems of Fernando Pessoa

..The Story continues…..

It is nearly impossible to write about that 3-year period; even after 20 years the pain and agony of the betrayal of everything I knew to be true still brings tears to my eyes, my heart rips open and my breath quickens.

Pieces. I will give you the pieces and the main facts. I will try to be the observer and be brief.

The holidays were almost always spent in New Orleans. We would go there or my aunt and uncle would come to us. Thanksgiving or Christmas, we switched around. Then one day my uncle while watching the news grabbed his chest and died.

The pain of his passing was no less or greater than the death of any one individual on earth, but my aunt really never recovered.

Traveling to New Orleans, we buried him and I settled what little was left of his estate. My aunt had never written a check in her life, she had no concept of a budget or even where money came from. My uncle had given her everything she wanted, shielded her from everything else, and in doing so died penniless and in great debt. Through a great attorney, the IRS would not act on the 200,000 tax lien against house and property.  The arrangement was that at the death of my aunt the property would be sold and the IRS would take its due. Because of this lien, I was able to notify the debtors they would have to stand behind the IRS, and all consequently wrote off the 80,000 in additional debts. My aunt’s only income would be my uncle’s meager social security. However, his sister Nan was quite frugal and wise in her ways and came to the rescue, willing to share what she had and my aunt took whatever she could.

Two years later, Nan’s boyfriend of 26 years, clutched his chest and died leaving her his entire estate along with the unfinished estates of his 3 sibling and nearly one half a million in cash. Not only did my aunt’s eyes gleam, but also so did Capitan’s halfway around the world.

So it was a fateful Thanksgiving that my aunt came to visit us, and laid out a desperate situation and begged me to come to New Orleans and help. She feared that the “family” now stealthily control by Capitan though my first cousin, was trying to rob poor Nan blind.

Both of these women were in their 80’s, and I felt the obligation to aide where I could. January of 1994, I flew back to New Orleans to have a look for myself at the situation. What I saw was an unacceptable situation that needed to be righted.

I went back home, telling my husband I would only be gone for a month or two to try to put things in order. Within the first few days of my arrival the family went into hysteria. Driven by the unknown quantity of me, and the fact I was not under their control, they declared war. The lawyers of the family issued verbal threats on my continued health, written threats were received anonymously in the mail.

The situation was plain to see: here were two old ladies, one already going a bit dotty and the other, my aunt, filled with a bit of greed and jealously over Nan’s inheritance; and there were a bunch of vultures on the side calling themselves family, willing to help them both into an early grave so they could get their hands on all the property and the money.

The first thing I did was to go directly to a old friend of Capitan’s, a prominent attorney, whose name I remembered hearing when I was a child, and I retained one of their best estate lawyers. Both aunts then gave me absolute power of attorney and the family took one step back. Licked their wounds and planned the next attack.

Though the attorney and a good accountant we were able to settle all of the open estates and have a proper succession of Nan’s boyfriends family so everything was in Nan’s name with my aunt as the primary beneficiary upon her death. In the meantime they would both enjoy a comfortable living on the invested proceeds of the estate.

Everything seemed to be running smoothly. Nan was living in her boyfriends duplex, visiting her own house once in a while with a handyman/gardener to manage the grounds and repairs as needed. The property and house in Lacombe, La would just sit until the aunt’s were ready to sell. Bank accounts had been established and each aunt would receive a stipend of nearly $5,000 a month; I thought I could now leave, letting Nan and Patty get on with their lives and just visit occasionally.

Little did I know that while all this was going on, my beloved aunt was telling the family she had no idea what I was doing or why I had come down and just taken over.

Unaware of her conversations with the family, I filled her in on all the details and she told me everything would be fine and she would call if needed. Then I went to speak to Nan. We had coffee at one of her favorite spots and I explained to her how since everything was in order and running smoothly I would head back home and if she needed me I was only a plane ride away.

She broke into tears. She began to tell me things Patty had said to the family in her presence, thinking she did not hear or understand. “Since Clarence (her boyfriend) died”, she said, “I have been praying and praying for someone to come and help me. And when you came I knew God had sent an angel. I do not know if I can manage without you but if you must, go I will understand.”

We spoke for a long time, my empathetic heart breaking with each spoken word, knowing that staying was something I now had to do because deep in my heart, I knew what would happen without my physical presence to stand as guardian.

I looked into my souls mirror and saw the first cracks, but I looked away, my altruism taking hold, my “polyananess” ignoring the small red flags, I just knew this was something I had to do, had to fix, had to help, had to protect.

I did not even consider that there would be no one to protect me.

Artless Art

Posted: February 10, 2013 in Art
Tags: , , , , , ,

“The artless are in charge of the arts.” Lance Rodgers

 

work in progress: Moon Threads, oil on canvas 77x92cm (30x36)

work in progress: Moon Threads, oil on canvas 77×92 cm (30×36)

 

The adventure does seem to continue………

I delivered the drawings to the gallery for the two-person show the day before the opening.  The owner and I discussed how they would hang (as usual) and we agreed on the arrangement.

Perhaps you can imagine my horror as I walked into the gallery about 15 minutes before the opening just 24 hours later, and gasped.  All 18 of my drawings and one large painting had been crammed onto two small half-walls. Some of the drawings were upside down or sideways.  I sort of just stood there in partial shock.   The owner walked in and said: “Hi, looks good doesn’t it?”  “You are joking of course,” I responded. “This is not what we agreed upon, there are drawings upside down and sideways, and it’s all thrown onto the wall, crowed together without a thought.”  “Well, it’s as good as it gets, it was a bad day.” He said shrugging his shoulders, “Which ones are upside down?” he smiled?

Had he gone insane overnight? Surely not! Aware that I was purposefully being insulted for what reason I could not fathom, my anger swelled and I could not speak, so I went outside to calm down as people were now filling the gallery.  Twenty minutes into the show I realized there was no price list for my work.  When I advised him and asked if it would not be too much trouble (yes when I get angry I become terribly sarcastic), he said he’d get to it when he had a chance, as he was busy at the moment.  He was chatting up invites of the other artist, a retired Sandia Labs engineer now turned photographer whose work was hung perfectly.  I have nothing against photography, I know quite a few real photographic artists whose work I admire and respect; but these photos were the “same old same old” of the mountains, rocks, pueblos, flowers and animals. Work done a thousand times before with the same classic Ansel Adams effects. Copycat production at best.

Icing on the cake was towards the end of the opening as I was speaking with a very interesting man who just bought one small piece, a book and several note cards. (Yes, in spite of the badly hung wall, I sold work. The photographer did not.)  The gallery owner approached, joined in the conversation and then said, …”What are you going to do next? Women and Guns?  …and what is it with the dead fish in the painting, you really want people to believe a fish can breathe out of water? …you really are weird!…and that dog, what does that mean?”  I smiled at him as one would smile at a deranged idiot and said nothing, I did not want to come off as a Diva and create a scene. Those standing around became uncomfortable and turned away as he continued this deriding monologue. My buyer thanked me and left.

I always knew this was not a “real” gallery, just a little mountain gallery with decent artists. I knew my “career” per se was over; this was just a good place to keep my art alive. Matters not the whys of what transpired that evening, I will probably never know.  But what I do know is that I will removed myself from the gallery at the end of the show.  These days’ people only get once chance with me, my tolerance for the baseness of what our society has become, no matter how much money or power they have, has reached it limits.

Which brought me to a terrible awareness, a question that plagued me for a couple of days then passed.  If I was a good as I think I am would I be in this situation?  Has it all been ego and hubris?  It this the reward of 25 years of hard work, honors and a bit of fame? Then I shook my head, knowing that there are millions of me out there in this world.  I am not unique. Each of us use to be something or somebody, people who had a purpose, a plan, people with ethics and vision, honor and responsibility.  Taken away, destroyed by the greed of others who possessed everything anyone could want and wanted more, eliminating what was left for the rest of us.

A brave new world indeed.

Just to reaffirm once again how the universe works,  a few days later I received notification one of my pieces had been accepted in a notable exhibition where I had never been accepted before:  in Albuquerque.

Then Home Depot called, they found my paperwork, I have a job.

See how amusing life can be? Some doors slam shut while other open quietly……. I am most grateful.