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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Think I Got It Tough?

I’ve been very self-involved the past few weeks. I haven’t shared a lot because I’ve sorta been in a serious dark spot for me and I don’t want to share that in case it’s contagious. Hey, I’m serious there. I know a smile or a laugh can be passed on when someone is feeling low and I’ve experienced someone else’s bad mood sucking the life out of my mood. Anyone who cohabitates with their significant other or even a platonic best friend knows what I mean, you’ve felt it first hand. Its part of the emotional connection. But as much as strong happiness can put a dance in a stranger’s step when they walk by, a very dark brood can push that same stranger into traffic.

I was sorting through my art journals and I decided the MS art journal pages should be their own book instead of throwing them in my main scrapbooks in chronological order. They express an area of my creativity that I want to keep in its own compartment, I’m not ashamed of it at all. I think it’s good and it’s great therapy. It’s just that it’s very dark compared to most of my scrapping and certainly compared to the parts of my world that I want to preserve.

While pulling out folders, I came across this page I did in September.

Ghost From The Past
Credits: Distressed and This Can’t Be Happening by Created by Jill Scraps, 
When Skies Are Gray by Ginger Bread Ladies

Who we are and who we will always be is a work of art itself. Ideally, it’s a work we love being and others appreciate it too. That work of art is a combination of everything and everyone who has touched our lives. Because we’re always being “painted” or “sculpted” with a stroke here or smoothing out there by different artists we are ever-changing works. Everything we see, every life we touch, leaves a little and takes a little.

The woman represented by this page was very real and although we never spoke a word to each other, I don’t recall ever even making eye contact with her, she left an impression on me. She is one of the artists who added a few strokes to who I am today. I find myself thinking of her a lot as I struggle through the especially trying times.

When I was a young adult, I often went to a bar/concert theater with friends in a rough part of Detroit. They had the local bands and hard rock and heavy metal bands that weren’t big enough to book arenas when they toured, but they could sell out a downtown concert bar. It was festival seating and for the big concerts it was common for there to be a line going around the building before the doors opened of young people, mostly from the suburbs. Safety in numbers, it was a party atmosphere with plenty of six-packs and wine coolers, talking, flirting and getting to know strangers.

She lived there, in those rough streets. To the quiet woman, concert nights were working nights, collecting the empty beer and wine cooler bottles which were worth a dime apiece in Michigan. Sometimes she had a cart, but usually it was a plastic shopping bag or two that she collected her dimes in. It was the unwritten and unspoken rule that she never spoke to us and we never spoke to her. When anyone finished a bottle or can when in line, they left the empty on the sidewalk where she could reach it. The only time anyone ever heard her voice was the occasional time someone would get an extra hamburger at McDonalds and leave it with the beer can. She took the burger and said “thank you.”

She was ragged, dirty and didn’t smile, but she didn’t let her lot in life completely destroy her either. She didn’t panhandle, she collected bottles. Altruistically, she cleaned up after the kids for her payday. The piece of her that she left with me was pride and determination. She left me her dignity and the knowledge that despite the standards I’ve given myself, that dignity is much deeper than a credit score or clean hair. I am able to feel good about the little victories because they are MY victories. Every time I use a bag to move something because I only have one free hand, or lament at my ”Snape hair” or that I was too weak to shower and “smell like a bag-lady,” her image comes to my mind. It might get better, it might not. But as long as I do the best I can and never stop trying today, I can still grasp an ounce of pride, of dignity, even on my worst days.

It was over 25 years ago that the unnamed woman touched my life every couple weeks. The rough life in the streets tells me she’s probably gone. But she is not at all forgotten.


LV said...

Sometimes the dark side of life can make us more appreciative of what we have. We all have our "days", but never despair, time takes care of things. Hang in!

Edna B said...

Nani, I've enjoyed this post, and I love your dark scrap layout. I have found that sometimes I do my best digital art when I am in a "down spiral."

This is a fascinating story, and one we could all learn from. Your homeless lady had more pride and dignity and class than a lot of folks that I've known.

I can understand your "blue" days. It's not easy to always be smiling and happy when life is dumping one lemon after another on you. (Speaking of lemons, my pregnant granddaughter in law is craving lemons. Imagine that! Lemons!)

I am very proud of how you've been coping with the MS and your attitude towards it. When you have accumulated enough of your "dark" digital art, I think it would be a great idea to put them all in to a book. A lot of folks need to know that it is okay to own and try to understand their down times.

Hopefully, you know what I mean here. Sometimes I don't say it all in the right words. The bottom line is that you are an inspiration to a lot of folks.

My eye is beginning to clear up so I'm starting to get back in the mood to do a few things around here. I actually started my wrapping yesterday, and packed up a couple of mail away boxes.

There is a fly buzzing around here, and it is driving Pogo nuts! He does not like flies. (I don't either!) I've been running around like a crazy lady with a bright orange fly swatter. Not such a pretty sight!!

Now I think I'd best get busy and post my blog so that I can look for some fun mischief to get into today. Nani, you have a beautiful day. Hugs, Edna B.