Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In Knots

This is supposed to be the most important time of my adult life,
but instead I feel victimized, and am filled with a sense of impending doom.

I just want everything to go back to normal,
but I feel like normal wasn't really that great to begin with.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where the Heart is.

I consider myself to be a liberal, self sufficient, progressive sort of lady. I vote, even in local elections. I put myself through college, while working full time (or more). As of May 2014, I will hold two degrees in the arts, I adopt my pets from shelters, and I listen to NPR. I am responsible, too. I pay my bills on time, I get up early to keep my little apartment clean, and I am always five minutes early.
But I'm not perfect, no one is. I still drive a gas sucking SUV while I wait to live in a city where I can take public transportation (because I am afraid of driving), not all of my produce is organic, my shoes are made out of leather, and I was born into a family that, for lack of a better word, is comprised of racists, high school drop outs, female misogynists, alcoholics, and thieves.
It's not something I broadcast.
I moved away from my family when I was 21, after I graduated from my Graphic Design program, to Kansas City, just far enough away to separate myself, and just close enough to make it home for Christmas. Moving to Kansas City is the best decision I have ever made. I am the first person in my family to hold a college degree, the first woman to graduate from high school (and the first one to make it past 21 without having a baby), the first to be published, the first to have my picture in the paper, and many other firsts that I choke down when I go home to visit, because of the vicious comments I have received in the past from my family, that I am a liberal elitist, a snob, and am "too smart for my own good", whatever that means. And maybe I do sound like an elitist by listing off minor accomplishments like having a BA, but you have to understand, that where I come from, that just doesn't happen. I only list these things now to paint a more vivid picture, to contextualize what I am about to write.
Today I am working on a 15 page paper for my 300CF History course, which focuses on race in American Film. My research proposal is due in the morning, so obviously, I did not start my research until this morning. My topic is the subject of African American women in film and television, and the capitalization of black stereotypes in reality television. Between heady chunks of scholarly articles, I need to periodically look at Facebook to maintain balance in my brain, because lets face it, I love Buzzfeed , puppy videos, and passive aggressive internet drama just as much as any other 27 year old. And that is when I came upon my sisters most recent post. It was another scandelous video of abuse in daycare caught on nannycam, a staple Facebook topic for all young moms of young children. This video in particular focused on a 4 year old African American boy hitting a younger girl repeatedly, while no supervision seemed to be occuring whatsoever.
Don't get me wrong, I completely agree that videos like this are repulsive, you know, because I am a human being. And it wasn't the video that sent me into the tirade that is bringing this long winded blog to you today. It was the comment directly underneath, by my sisters boyfriend, whom she lovingly refers to as "her man", which reads (and I am typing this word for word, no editorializing whatsoever): "Are you seriously surprised that a dumb little n*gger kid would do that? Im sure the parents are winnders too. And that fat n*gger bitch worker just sat and watched.it." This heinous bit of hate speech was instantly "liked" by my cousin, the self proclaimed rebel belle of Missouri (which never succeeded from the union, just a bit of history for all of the Missourians sporting rebel flags on their cars, including several members of my extended family). You see, both my mother and my sister are dating members of a motorcycle "club", the Invaders, whom I believe are based out of Indiana, if I am not mistaken. And, as is the case with some (not all) motorcycle groups, racism is tightly wound in the lure of the culture, along with symbols such as the SS logo and the swastika. So, I would like to say I was more shocked than I was when I read this repulsive comment. But the truth is, even while I immediately reported the comment and went off on my own little tirade before the thread was pulled (being careful not to name call or use hateful speech towards my sisters "man", to avoid contradicting my own cause), my blood boils. How, in 2014, was this comment  up for almost 40 minutes before anyone reported it?  How was I the only one who seemed offended? And how, my god how, did he get more likes than my comment? Well, my friends, I will tell you. Because the world is full of racists. And maybe all of the people who think that Missouri is full of racist, uneducated hicks were right all along, at least partially.
After my hands stopped shaking, after the thread was removed (either by my sister or by Facebook admin), after the 50 minutes of blood curling rage subsided, I am now on pins and needles. Every time I hear my cell vibrate, I am afraid that it is a member of my family, letting me know what a bad sister and a liberal snob I am for reporting this comment.
Nowadays, when I talk to my family, they are hestitant to talk to me at all. My dad, who was once my best friend, now says hardly anything to me, because he is afraid that I will yell at him. This is heartbreaking to me, to see our relationship disintegrate because of what he percieves to be my liberal agenda, and my obvious anger when I hear "the N-word" several times over Thanksgiving dinner. When I call him to tell him how school is going, he revels over having a college student in the family, but manages to never attend a single one of my shows, or even remember when they are, or what city they are in. Over Christmas, I brought my boyfriend home for the first time, and my mother asked us to come to her boyfriends house (who, only weeks before, was her "abusive meth head ex ", but has somehow made a miraculous recovery). Not wanting to abandon my mother on Christmas, we obliged. What we walked into was a den of teenagers going on booze runs for the motorcycle "club" members, who offered me a joint roach and a shot of Jack when I walked in the door (which, of course, I accepted), who all listened to Merle Haggard on Christmas Day. In the driveway, I found two confederate flags and an entire deer carcas in the back of one of the trucks parked in front of me, which also bore a sticker, of Calvin pissing on the words "CITY FOLK". I put in my obligatory time there, but when my boyfriends obvious discomfort became too blantant to ignore, we made our exit. Later, my mother would call me, drunk and crying at four in the morning, saying that her boyfriend was cruel to her. Later, she would deny it, and to this day, claims that he doesn't really get into the racist aspects of the bike club. The SS logo on his jacket says otherwise. The last time I saw my mother and sister, they both wore jackets that read, "Property of the Invaders".
 By now you are wondering what the point of this whole rant is. And maybe there isn't one. Maybe I just need to get it down in type, and hope that maybe someone will stumble upon it. Maybe one day I should write a book, documenting what it is like to be white trash, trying to pretend not to be white trash. Whatever the reason, I wish I could imagine how much more I could have learned had my parents and extended family been more educated, or more tolerant of others, when I was younger. I still struggle even today with the stereotypes I was brought up on, although as with most people, that struggle fades with age and knowledge. At 27, I am wondering what my relationship with my parents will be, as I approach 30 faster and faster, with no grand babies for them to play with, and the common ground between us rapidly disintegrating.  I wonder how long it has been since we had any real relationship at all.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Employment, Cont.

I teach lessons on how to reproduce Van Gogh, who died poor, because he was a non-conformist.

And I make $40 an hour doing it.

And I hate myself for it.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Exploitation in the Suburbs

So most of you who know me, know that I have this job...

I manage a "Painting Party Studio", which means that I teach bored housewives how to paint K-Mart dorm room paintings for $40 an hour. I get to drink at work, I get to practice painting every day, I get to make a living off of being a commodified creative. 

There are two main employees, I being the senior of the two. Both of us are blonde, tattoed, artist typecasts. Although I live in Kansas City, a city that embraces artists and the artistic lifestyle, I work in the suburbs outside of my city, where the people only venture downtown every other weekend, to hang out in outdoor malls and go to concerts at the Sprint Center and eat food that the actual locals can never afford. Because the suburbs wont fund bus routes to the well paying jobs, to keep the riff raff where they belong. 

But I digress....

The thing about my job is that most of the time I feel like everything about me is being whittled down to its most basic aspects, to sell me as a product, while simultaneously using me to make these suburbanites feel like they are living on an edge that doesn't exist. So they can drink wine and get immediate satisfaction, by copying off of someone else's artwork that has been guided by a market of cheap, replaceable junk that means nothing. So they can take pictures for Facebook next to a girl with tattoos, holding a paintbrush, which they will later throw down in frustration because they aren't getting the perfect painting, right away, in twenty minutes after spending thirty years bragging to their friends about how they don't have a creative bone in their body, and "can't even draw a stick figure". How dare things not turn out right for them right away? Were they not promised that life would give them what they wanted? They've never had to work for anything else, why is art different? If they could just sign their name to the bottom of someone elses painting and have their photo taken next to it for Facebook, they would walk away with a better experience. When did it become cool to be ignorant? Walking around and bragging about who is more terrible at art, is a very thinly veiled way of bragging about being above the artist. "Oh, I can't even draw a stick figure! I'm just so right brained." This usually precludes the line of questioning about what my "real job" is. Why is it so uncool to try? Why is it so fashionable to be a dumb woman? Why is it so acceptable to brag about being inadequate? What is so cute about selling yourself short? "Oh, I have never picked up a paintbrush." Well, why not? I don't like playing sports, but that doesn't mean that I just never tried. Why is it okay to just write off the arts?

Lately, I have put on my normal ten pounds of winter weight, which I am struggling to drop. And suddenly, I feel as if I have gotten fewer shifts, as if I am not quite the perfect visual representation of Suburban edginess, because tattoos and piercings are edgy, but being overweight is just lazy. I am accepted for who I am when I fit comfortably into the predetermined mold of how suburbanites view "people like me", but not truly accepted for any physical or mental flaw. 

We start shooting for Painting Parties.com this week, and I couldn't be less excited. All of a sudden, I am the "alternative" Bob Ross of Internet commodification of the arts. Pay $20 online and you can learn how to paint cute little owls! I imagine giant banners on the websites, western fonts, and pictures of me in too much black eyeliner, being toted about like the Kat Von Dee of fake bullshit Pier One Imports artwork. 

Making a living as an artist, but at what cost?


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Whatever I Want

I'm starting to realize that my first real show is in the middle of January. I'm starting to realize that attendance might be low, which relieves some of the pressure to be a perfectionist, and opens me up to the possibility that the show could be exactly what I wanted to be without making any compromises. Instead of worrying over $700 frame jobs and making sure that I get my press release to the right critic that may or may not show up, I plan on making the entire show an installation that looks as if it were dipped in glitter glue and run through a thrift store. At least this way I can gauge whether my taste transcends my own head space. So fuck it, might as well just go all out. I don't mean to sound pessimistic about how the show is going to go over . I'm sort of proud of myself being able to just kind of let go. It helps not being in the collective environment anymore, but at the same time I don't really have a critical eye looking over me at any point. I should probably look for a balance between being 100% self indulgent and having someone reign me in a little. But in the meantime I should start shopping for tacky gold frames.


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Location:Hyde Park