Lifedrawing before I take to the skies...

While I'd rather be at home packing, and there is still way too much to do, until Friday I am at a job where I can while away my time, between calls and mailings, on the NET (instead of finishing packing, oh such stress). For Jean, Adriana Bliss, e_journeys, Mary Godwin, Richard Lawrence Cohen, and Dale, who left such heartwarming messages and a welcome back whenever that may be, and Tamar who sent me an email, thank you, my dear blogging friends...

Last night I went with my new friend Stephen, Voxcat, to his weekly lifedrawing class, and then to English Bay to watch the fireworks, a magnificent display of light and colour and explosion over the ocean and against the backdrop of the mountains, a most wonderful way to say goodbye to Vancouver.

I post three of my lifedrawing efforts. They were 3 minute poses. A challenge for one who likes to linger over drawing. By the third hour I was exhausted with the speed, and began to colour instead. These images contain stories, reflections, ways of composing life and being and may become photopoems later on...

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Meadow Dancing
©Brenda Clews 2005

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Her Figments and Shadows in Half Tones
©Brenda Clews 2005

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Are Those Her Wings, Has She Yet to Put Them On?
©Brenda Clews 2005
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Time to take to the skies...

With many behind-the-scenes crises and negotiations, it's finally official. I'm moving back to Toronto, where I expect to be welcomed by quibbling but supportive family and a whole group of beautiful friends. I plan to fly out of Vancouver on Monday, with my dog and cat in tow. I have nowhere to stay, and will have to rely on the kindness of friends for the first bit (my family can't help, my brothers live in a no-dogs condo and my mother is in her 80s and couldn't handle me & my pets)...

I'm gonna miss you all! I am working this week, and packing like a halycon now that it is actually going to happen, and don't know when I'll be on-line again, it could be a day, a week, a month...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI'd like to thank all of you for your supportive, encouraging, warm and sometimes humorous comments as I struggled through my uncertainties. You've all made it an easier journey, and my last post, Sky Songs in the Park, was particularly inspired by our connections to each other. I'd especially like to thank a fellow blogger who has been most kind to me throughout the ongoing crises and practically hand-held me through the worst and most unsettling parts, Ira, thenarrator. And Pru, ydurp, for your support behind-the-scenes too. And Laurieglynn, for your long and encouraging magical emails. And dear Bonnie, Literature_Chick, I hope to squeeze some time out of this busy weekend of packing and moving to go to the Slough to meet you, the Japanese fishing village in Richmond, where a most amazing woman lives in a little house on stilts. And Stephen, Voxcat, it sure was wonderful meeting another blogger and hitting the town to dance last Saturday night, and how you took me to that magical house in the Slough last night, ahh; we'll keep in touch with each other through the blogosphere...

Until we meet again, my beautiful writers, friends, confidants... big hugs, lots of kisses, and tons of delightful laughter... & keep on posting! xoxo

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Sky Songs in the Park

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Marriage Mandala

Ok, it would make an interesting tatoo. I painted it 20 years ago when I had a dreadfully sore throat and fever. I remember lying in bed, sipping codeine-laced cough syrup straight from the bottle, journal on my knees, acrylics beside me, painting. I was into snakes and mandalas, just coming out of my Jungian stage. It's a small image. Then I got married that year and used it as the image for our Wedding Invitations. My sculptor friend was the only one who remarked on it, and he said, "O my g-d! For a wedding?" C'mon, dear old friend, two ouroboros' are intertwined, the serpents are kissing and forming a heart, there's a wishing star of blessing and guidance, a pearl or moon holding the secret of wisdom, and flames of passion leaping out of the sun... Sigh. Did the marriage last, well, no, but that's beside the point.

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"Marriage Mandala" ©1985 by Brenda Clews

Ouroboros: a circular symbol or a snake or dragon devouring its tail, standing for infinity or wholeness.
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Mismatched Coordinates, or Resting in Uncertainty?

Uncertainty continues only because the coordinates are not coordinating. Desires and their fulfillment are slightly off. And that variation sends the compass spinning into chaos.

I'm attempting to plan a move back East because I have not been able to find permanent work. My children are presently in Ontario and their plane tickets back to Vancouver have been cancelled. Everything is nearly in place, but not quite.

Late yesterday afternoon I received a call asking that I stay on as a temp receptionist at my favourite company in Vancouver for a month; and I have been asked to do a maternity leave for a year beginning in late November too. Had the offer of a month's work occured even a few days ago, it would have changed everything.

I've been doing well living in uncertainty. Making plans based on the lack of work here, yet with no certainty when I arrive back in Toronto either. That's equally up in the air. But this call yesterday threw me into chaos, a sleepless night, the sense of inner explosions imploding...

Then it turns out that the mover I discussed my move with has booked nothing, not checked into the cost of shipping by rail, and so it's like I'm not leaving at all. Although I am leaving a house I haven't been very happy in; at least that's definite and certain. Or is it?

So, for a week's work, and hopefully growing clarity in the confusion, I wasn't going to say anything about my uncertainty. But I did. HR, who I adore, truly, wasn't too happy with me. But, hey guys, I could have lied, said yes, I can do a month, then sped out of here when everything else was in place, if in fact it did fall into place. They decided to give me another week of work here, a week I can definitely commit to.

At this rate, though, I may be out of a good job that gives me parameters I'm comfortable with, with great people, and a good move back home, and with the coordinates swinging wildly and without connection in the starry sky, end up on the street...

Now those universal co-ordinates where desire and event meet in action, why aren't they matching up? They're slightly askew, just off key, and all it's serving to do is make me feel badly about lost opportunities. You can only push the event continuum so far in a direction, and then it takes off, like an avalanche, and there's no stopping what you've started. I'm almost at that point, or have I jiggled it enough so that a move back is already immanent in the Great Ledger of Life? A move back into the uncertainty of no job, no house, and having to start all over again from scratch? When I suddenly, and at long last, have work here now, or at least a real offer of it?

Or, why do I get offered exactly what I was looking for after I've given up and decided to leave?

I mean, I'm only talking interim; I was also going to tutor at an agency in the evenings for more money than a temp agency pays, and, hopefully, return to university in the Fall of 2006. This, merely a bridging strategy. So why is the bridge suddenly offered when I've given up and almost gone the other way?

What does it mean? Or am I to listen to the sardonic laughter of the Gods of Fate as they watch me squirm? Giving me what I asked for after I given up the thought of getting it and had begun to make other tenuous plans...?

I still have an enormous amount of packing to do this weekend. I feel like collapsing in a heap of tears and resignation. Arghhh.....

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What's Hidden in the Crevices?

I wonder what is hidden in the crevices, the tiny tide pools, the obscure and wayward parts of ourselves? There is a central story, our main narrative, who we are, what we've experienced, the way we think of ourselves, the way we tell our stories, the way we present ourselves to others, but what if that falls away? What if sometimes our own mainstream is still, empty, non-existent; what if it disppears for awhile; what then? What would come creeping out of the shadows, slithery, bat-like things, or fairies, gnomes, sylphs and undines, or a cast of characters of every shade and tenor, or visions of sublime beings composed of light? Would the inner child come creeping out -- who's full of fears and magic? Would we release pure poetry like the kisses of soft breezes and rays of warm sun? Would stray and incoherent thoughts stream by, fluffs of seeds floating into view, and allow themselves to be thought, their blossoms already promising, even if for a moment? In what ways do we surprise ourselves? In what ways don't we know ourselves? In what ways are we open to other stories of our lives, ones that don't fit the main narratorial road we've carved often painfully out of the mountains and the sand and the ocean of our lives? In what ways are we willing to change and to accomodate our own inner minorities, our own submerged selves, and create an inner democracy between all the aspects that compose us? When you listen to stray thoughts on the edge of your consciousness what do you hear...?

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On the way home, after I had posted these thoughts, a butterfly landed in my open palm and stayed for a photo...
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MP3: On Paintings in the Sand

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Prose Poem ~ On Paintings in the Sand ~ at SoundClick, 6:42min (text here). There is some fun discussion of time in it, and other insights into the creative process that our lives are...

Jean, whose photograph inspired my piece, has written of the Tibetan Buddhist Sand Manadala created by monks visiting from Tashi Lhumpo Monastery in India in the basement of Clerkenwell art gallery in London. The monks, who had preplanned this by months, started the day after the recent bombings and the pouring of the sand to create the mandala went on for a week during the aftermath. Jean has written a beautiful entry. I urge you to read it.

(Photograph by Nancy Jane Reid, click on the image for its source URL.)

For more background information, here is an introduction to Mandala Sand Painting. Here is a site that shows the Mandala Construction process in photographs. And here's another series of photographs of the astoundingly perfect creation of a Sand Mandala and its being swept away...

On Representations of Ourselves, or "The New Profile Pic," or Myths of Self-Imitation...

A discussion on the self-referentiality of imitation of the self...Oh, ok, I'll stop being so veiled, in my travels through the blogosphere today I saw a comment by someone that said that all the bloggers they met were nothing in real life like they portrayed themselves in their blogs. Which got me thinking...

On Representations of Ourselves, or "The New Profile Pic," or Myths of Self-Imitation...

"...many people put on masks to discover who they are under the covert masks they usually wear, so that the overt mask reveals rather than conceals the truth, reveals the self beneath the self; and it tells us that, although such masquerades cannot change people into other people, they may change them into others among their many selves"....Doniger goes on to say, "the essence of a masquerade: to present something known in such a way that people mistake it for something unknown (or the reverse.)"
Wendy Doniger, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was (Oxford, 2005), p.3-5.

Now, hmnnn... My new profile photo doesn't look like me. I'm not sure who it looks like... it was darkened considerably for the profile. Here is the original photo (click on it for a larger size), and another of the painterly things I did to the background with the impressionist brush and with the midtones darkened. Neither look like me, the light washing away the wrinkles, the years, the spots and arrows of outrageous time, but I found it an interesting photo in itself, not as representation of me as I see myself, but as representation of an image of self that is just plain different. I'm a soft woman, not the way it looks in the small version, which I think of as inclining towards heavy metal... *chuckles*~

If you met me, though, I might have to impersonate the image of myself that I have created in my blog... ! Oh, it's so interesting, persona, representation, who we are, the ways we present ourselves to each other! And how we might need to masquerade as ourselves were we to meet. Or, another approach, perhaps we masquerade as an aspect of ourselves that helps us to discover who we, in fact, are. So I masquerade as a writer in my blog, only to discover that I am a writer! The mask and the central persona become interchangeable so that life imitates art...

And he said, "You are nothing like the woman you are in your blog. In your writing you present a completely different person.' Which shocked me. Who says I have to be like the woman I portray in my blog anyway? I never said it was the 'real' me any more than any of the other 'me's' are real. *giggles & giggles*

I might not be at all as you imagine me to be were we to meet. And vice versa. Isn't this scary to contemplate? That the mask of the narrator of the blog and the central persona of the person might be far apart rather than simply interchangeable. Makes you wanna fret, doesn't it.

Especially if we are trying to discover a writerly voice, our best one, in our bloggerly lifewriting.

How does reality intersect with illusion anyway?
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On Paintings in the Sand

The weaving's come undone. Stitches untied, unraveled. Strands of lace and bright-coloured yarns lie like fragmented, melted, Surrealist Dali paintings. Time itself has unwoven its tight grip. What was is spinning undone, the wheel unweaving each strand of memory, each flashback, scattering the cloth that was worn into the unrelentingly ragged. All that remains are tatters of a way of perceiving, a way of composing, a perception that gave coherence to the confusions of meaning.

The wind that sweeps across the damaged landscape of meltings and obscurities scatters what's left, taking even the mementos of a way to compose the picture that made sense, that held it all together. There is no centre. Or circumference. Only the burning, the ceaseless burning of the fire in the sky. And the light that pulls consciousness with it, into recognition, into awareness.

Into weaving stories, making patterns, creating forms, dramas about the world, personas for ourselves, staging scenarios because we don't know. What lies under the fabric of our lives? When the weaving shreds, and is lost, do we busy ourselves with raw yarn and our spinning wheels and our pots of dye and our artistic forms and create new pageants to express us and to create us over and over by reiteration? Why does what flows have to adhere to processes of fixing, stabilizing, pinning, eternalizing?

If I throw away all my weavings, crumpled and shredded and scattered, recycling into the earth, and let time undo itelf through me, will I levitate through the landscape of the unburdened heart? And will I feel the soft rain like glistening petals on my naked skin?

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Click for a larger size.

At Jean's blog, This Too, today. A Tibetan Buddhist sand painting of a mandala. Isn't it exquisite?
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Sacred Symbol of Female Creative Power...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThe relationship between Goddess, hunter, and prey is shown in this ancient rock painting from Tassili in the Sahara.
Rufus Camphausen, The Yoni, Sacred Symbol of Female Creative Power (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1996), p.58.

While packing books today, I was deep in my maternal body section, and found a stunning cross-cultural book on The Yoni. Which I haven't read but will. And I also found this roaming through the blogosphere over my morning coffee. Is there any connection? In the way of things, yes, I'm sure there is. This delightful wisdom from Dave Bonta's blog, Via Negativa:

A woman with the right kind of fat is a joy to others and a joy to herself. Her body is pure lubricity, able to move in several directions at once: go watch a belly dancer if you don't believe me. One night with such a woman, my friend, & no skinny woman will ever again be able to entrance you with her momentary cry & one-dimensional hunger. The exclamation point soon loses its power to astonish, but the round curves of a question mark? Ah, there's something to ponder! A thousand queries flood my tongue with the tang of olives.

Yes, hmmnnn...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usNow isn't that line drawing of an ancient cave painting most interesting? The way they saw it, the woman's yoni feeds the man's erection and gives him the magical "hunt" power to enrapture/capture his prey...

I could keep you occupied for many posts with images from this book, photographs of natural formations, very beautiful, ancient art, where the yoni is revered, and modern art, where, well, it can be strange (see Gottfried Helnwein's Lulu), or natural & sensual (see Georgia O'Keefe's Gray Line), or as worthy of worship (see Judy Chicago's Cunt as Temple, Tomb, Cave or Flower); if all that isn't enough, there are close-ups of different shaped vulvas (padmini "lotus," chitrini "fancy," shankhini "fairy or conch," and hastini "elephant") classified according to the Kama Sutra, the Anganga Ranga and the Koka Shastra of India. Camphausen wrote this book before Eve Ensler's, The Vagina Monologues, or else that'd be in there too. I don't know of a counterpart book on male mythic sexuality, do you?

Alas, I have to keep packing.

But you can expound prolifically in the comments if this post has caused a springload to flourish in you...
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