A Place to Start

Empathy: a friend sent me an article this morning by Alisa Golden about empathy in art (you can read it here) and I was thinking about maybe that’s what the deal is with the quilters who want no politics with their fabric. Why do those of us who make more political quilts get upset with them? I don’t like to just write off a whole group of people with the “stupid” or “ignorant” label, but what I really think they may be lacking, or maybe just AVOIDING, is empathy. Putting yourself in the shoes of a mother who has been trying to get her children away from drug dealers and violence. Feeling like you need to find a better world to raise children. How is that hard to understand?

I had a student this last year with gang connections and lots of family pressure regarding that, and I said more than once, if I were his mom, I would pick him up, put him in the car without telling the rest of the family, and I would drive him far far away and not tell anyone where I was going, and I would raise him somewhere that those influences were not available. Because he’s 12. And he deserves a chance to grow up without having to fight a rival gang member or be surrounded by drugs and violence. And I realize mom probably doesn’t have the ability to do that financially or supportwise. It would take a lot of courage to walk away from everything you know and some of your own children to make that happen. So if I were really her, maybe I wouldn’t do it. But I do think about being her and being the mom of this troubled kid and how I would solve that problem.

So empathy. We certainly don’t have an empathetic president…or government in charge. If I listen to any more white men explain people of color, immigrants, gays, trans, or women to me…I try to avoid them, but occasionally their rhetoric slips through. I don’t have a lot of empathy for them. When I try to get there, I just feel their fear of change and loss of control and power. Geez. Find something else to get you excited then. White supremacists? I have a hard time with empathy. They probably have a hard time with me too. But this is what we need…to feel the humanity in all of us and to help people through the hard stuff without the NIMBY attitude. Ask them why they need to believe what they believe. Explain it to me.

So what does this have to do with art? Well, I guess that’s how I do the empathy thing…I put mine out there and hope it speaks to someone. It’s what I know how to do. Golden wrote: “Art is not just about the message. It is not only about the meaning or feeling or mood. It is also about getting outside of yourself and your own game and respectfully touching base with someone, somewhere else.” So if we can do that with our quilts, that should be a good thing.

I am incredibly lucky and pleased to not have jury duty this week…I’m even more pleased that they told me I had the whole week off, because I was all stressed out about gas in the car, food in the fridge, stuff to take with me, planning for something that might not even happen. I don’t do well in those situations. I like to know what’s coming. I handle uncertainty all the time, but every day? Yikes. No. So this week is free…which is good, because I already had 3 things planned and now I have 4. I would have canceled or moved them if I had to, although the two medical appointments are not so easy to schedule…so it’s a good thing I don’t have to.

One of the appointments is with a diabetes educator, because that’s the way I get to figure out how to use my new medicine. I went through the diabetes classes when I was diagnosed 16 or so years ago, and I’m pretty good at paying attention to what I should be doing…but my body is changing as menopause decides whether or not to be a thing (certainly yelling “Make up your damn mind, uterus!” has absolutely no effect on the situation), and I’m convinced by what I’ve read and understood about the whole thing that it is the hormones that are causing the majority of my issues right now. I am not exercising enough, that’s true, but nothing else has changed. I’m hoping the education comes with some sanity, because I’ve had some crazy thrown at me over the years…and when I try to say, um, no, diabetes is not caused by eating red meat…I get lectures or incorrect information. So I am trying to keep my mind open and not be cranky about being educated. Perhaps there is new information and they won’t just lecture me about my stressful job and my shitty sleep habits. Or not. They told me to bring my new meds too, but you inject once a week and I don’t want it to be on a Tuesday…it’s one of my busiest and most stressful days of the school week. So we’ll have that conversation. Show me without actually doing it. I feel like that could be a thing.

Boychild is still in Mammoth…there are worse places to get stranded, although this is one of the more expensive places to get stuck…

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Apparently his dad and grandpa are on standby with a flatbed truck to go get him and the car if necessary. Sigh. Poor kid…finally decides it’s time to come home, and he’s stuck 6 hours away. Hopefully it will be an easy fix.

So I worked on this a little last Thursday and last night…on the wild dog in the center.

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He’s a little blurry, but I did needleweaving over the brown dots…

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I should find the instructions for those silly flowers…I know they’re in a different month. That’s why I haven’t done them.

After dinner with the parentals, I came home and quilted for a good long while…enough to get the dark outlining done. I started around the sun with a yellow…

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Then I’ll do the stars with a golden orange, the background of the sky etc with a variety of off white and beige colors, and then finally the border in green. It’s not a small amount of quilting that’s left, but I might finish today.

When I got tired of that (I set a goal and met it), I came out to work on the drawing. I cut out the bottom of this viewpoint, because I wanted it to obviously be a penis, so it wasn’t long enough for the size I drew.

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Fixed. That was easy.

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I can’t get all this immigration bullshit out of my head, so it’s now in there too.

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This quilt is more about women’s issues and women’s rights, but it seems like keeping one’s family together should be a right. I should put an American flag tattoo on the arm.

Then I drew the next of the pregnant women. She might be the last mostly full figure…we’ll see. The drawing is changing in my head as I draw (and watch the news…maybe should turn that off). I don’t know what her viewpoint is yet…

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Still working on that. Added a cat. Like you do.

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You can kind of see how it’s going here. I really am trying to keep it simple…ha!

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Yeah. I should stop saying that. It’s not completely true. So I’ll keep working on this today.

So what’s on the table for today? Hope the boychild’s car gets fixed quickly. Go to the gym. Pick up the other dog. Hopefully finish quilting…I wonder if I bought binding fabric? Probably not. It was how many years ago that I sandwiched it? Two? I’ll go through the pile and see if I can figure it out. Then work on the drawing after dinner again. Let it percolate all day so I can make decisions. Have empathy for someone. Or lots of people. It’s a place to start.

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