Refuse to sink!

Repurposed vintage lampshade and sample of wood burning art

 sample of wood burning art


Repurposed vintage lampshade

Repurposed vintage lampshade

I’m fairly used to rejection. As an actor, writer and artist, rejection has kind of become part of my daily diet. But I learned early on that getting roles was more the exception than the rule and that even the most successful writers wade through piles of rejection letters before anyone deems them publishable. As sensitive a soul as I am, I can take most rejections in stride. But there is a limit, and I discovered it today.

This weekend I did my first art fair. It’s a funky fair in Cave Creek called “The Big Heap.” This show is different from any other art show I’ve ever been to in town. It’s a lot of repurposed art, architectural salvage and vintage creations. It’s also a lot of junk. There’s not nearly as much finished art as I expected. Patrons are bargain hunting for rusty mixers from 1962 not foraging for quirky objets d’art. Needless to say, my clever collection of whimsical wares was not drawing in crowds. After a day and a half of continuous disregard I was more than a little disheartened.

I took a break to get out of my 10X10 tent for a few minutes and to use the porta-potty (definitely my least favorite part of the gig). On the way back, my eye caught a glimpse of a silver trinket at one of the neighboring booths. Upon closer examination, I saw that it was one of those trendy dog-tag necklaces which are typically engraved with hip, meaningless inspirational phrases like “Be here now,” or “Believe in truth.” I almost walked right past it. But something told me to stop, to “be in the moment,” and “trust my instincts.” I picked it up and read its poignant message; a message clearly and obviously meant for me. “Refuse to sink,” it said. I smiled.

I have to admit, my first association went to that guy in Hillsborough, Florida who got swallowed up by a sinkhole last March as he lay in bed sleeping. But after that, I took a breath and really tried to see the more personal meaning of this heaven-sent communique. “Refuse to sink.” That’s not as easy as it may sound. The undercurrent has a heavy tow. In this case, it’s pulling me powerfully back to my bedroom to crawl under the covers and lick my wounded ego in solitude. But that’s not an option.

I guess I could always pretend that I wasn’t the artist. “Did you make these?” people are constantly asking. “Um…no…I…found them…at a second hand art store for…really quirky people. It’s in…Laguna Beach.” That might provide some momentary comfort. Full disclosure though, the people who do venture into my colorful kiosk seem genuinely delighted by my playful pieces. At least I think they’re being genuine. They say things like, “Wow, these are awesome,” or “They’re so unusual and creative.” I’ve used their enthusiasm to keep me from plummeting into sinkhole despair. But in retrospect, I’m wondering if the plethora of positive praise isn’t in the same category as “It’s out of this world,” or “I’ve never quite seen anything like this.” You know, the standard retorts people give when they feel pressured to provide verbal response but refuse to sully their souls with anything short of brutal honesty.

Bottom line, it’s not easy putting yourself out there day after day. But I’ll remind myself and you of one of Martha Graham’s famous quotes about art: “It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll keep the channel open, and I’ll keep hoping that it doesn’t suck me in, swallow me whole and snuff out every last bit of hope in my being. Oops, did I just write that? Anyway check out my website at I’m up for a bit of gentle (yet honest) artistic feedback.

p.s. I did go home today for a nap and left my husband and son to man the tent for a few hours. They sold multiple pieces. So maybe I’m not a useless bit of wasted energy…er…um…maybe I should keep plodding ahead and believing in myself and my creative vision.

Offspring Rejection Syndrome: (O.R.S.) A severe and often chronic affliction affecting parents of tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings

Oh, the pain of Offspring Rejection Syndrome!

I am officially suffering from an acute case of O.R.S. And it is seriously sucking the joy out of my life. You see, I used to be the bees knees, the cat’s pajamas, totally rad. And now? I’m nothing more than an inconvenient embarrassment whose sole value derives from driving small boys to and fro, continuously providing a never-ending supply of cut-up fruit, and paying for…everything!

This totally sucks! It’s not that it comes as a surprise to me. I’ve always known that parents become uncool. I just never thought it would happen to me, and never so abruptly.It all happened yesterday, the day my eldest son turned 11. Today, he can’t even stand to be seen with me in public. What changed overnight? And why does it have to hurt so much?

I drove to school today and on the way, I remembered that I was supposed to bring a check for an upcoming overnight retreat. Since I didn’t have a check, I decided to pop into the school office and give them my credit card.

“You’re coming in with us?” My son barked insensitively.

“No,” I replied calmly, “I’m just going in to pay for your retreat. You can go in by yourself.”

“But, Mom…Geez! That is sooooooooo embarrassing!” He grunted, harumphed and rolled his eyes to the ceiling.

I was pissed.

“Well,” I started with a defensively edgy lilt, “If it’s so embarrassing, would you rather I not go in and pay for the retreat? It’s up to you.”

“Whatever,” he snipped.

It was at that moment, hearing his surly “whatever,” that something inside of me snapped. I grabbed his still sweet, loving, seven-year-old little brother’s hand and walked into the office. I should have just gotten back into my car and driven away. Too embarrassed to be in the same room with me? That’s just…mean.

Look, I’m all for individuating. I know that’s part of the growing up process. But I don’t recall ever treating my parents with disgust, disdain or disrespect. It hurts. My husband says I shouldn’t take it so personally. It’s actually good that our son, who hasn’t always been so keen about social appropriateness, gets that his peers are rejecting their parents right now. But I feel like crap. And I’m honestly not sure I’m capable of rising above this. I keep wanting to say to him, “Well, if you’re too good for me, then why don’t you just go rent an apartment, get a friggin’ job and get off the parental dole?” I know that’s childish and immature. But that’s how I feel.

Please tell me that this is only a stage, a short one. Tell me that all kids go through this, that it isn’t me. Tell me that he’ll come around, that he wont always feel shame when I enter a room, that I really am more than a money machine and chauffeur. And if you can’t tell me any of those things, at least tell me how to handle the hurt and where to find the internal strength to let this stuff roll off my back.

I know I’m not the first parent to suffer from offspring rejection syndrome. But it would sure help if someone who lived through it could point out the light at the end of this tunnel and assure me that this boy, who lights up my heart, will once again, someday, think as lovingly about me as I do everyday about him.


I had jury duty yesterday, and for the first time ever, I wasn’t able to get out of it.
Now I have to admit that part of me thought the whole thing was kind of cool; fulfilling my responsibility as an American citizen, and all that patriotic stuff. But after 20 minutes of sitting in the crowded holding room with 25 other potential jurors, I was pretty much over the whole civic duty propaganda.

Visions of “12 Angry Men” filled my head as I carefully assessed each of the other prospective jurors. would that nice middle-aged woman with the cute hair-cut be the Jack Lemmon character? Would I? Who can predict who will stand up for the downtrodden defendant and who will sympathize with the alleged victim?

Once we moved into the courtroom, the judge asked us a bunch of questions about our preconceived notions and biases. It was a DUI case so he asked us about our alcoholic drinking practices, our understanding of the drinking and driving laws, whether we were related to attorneys or law enforcement officers. And then came the fateful question: were we ever involved in a drunk driving incident. I raised my hand immediately, surprised that the memory was still so accessible. It had been 15 years, but you don’t forget having your car totaled by a drunk driver whose head going through his own windshield didn’t even sober him up. I thought it was odd that the judge didn’t even ask me the standard follow up question “would anything about that prevent you from rendering an unbiased opinion in this case?” Hmmm? Maybe that meant I’d be excused and could still run a few errands before pick-up.

After the questioning, they led us into the main hall to await their selection. When we came back into the courtroom, they read the names of the chosen jurors and asked them to take seats in the jury box. But here’s the really strange part; instead of feeling relieved, remember I didn’t want to do this in the first place, I felt rejected. Why hadn’t they wanted me? I could have been impartial. I mean, one drunk apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl. My heart sank. I looked around to see if the weird lady with the photo tote was disappointed too? What about that pretty law school student, was she disheartened?

The selected jurors looked proud, as if there was something special about them. I even detected a slightly haughty air as they glanced around the room at those of us still sitting in the cheap seats. They actually felt superior to us. I mean after all, they had made the cut. It reminded me of every cheerleading and pom-pon try-out I’d botched. It was weird.

My spurned feelings abated much quicker than usual, though. On average, I spend at least 48 hours berating myself for every rejection notice I get these days. In this instance, I felt fully recovered by the time I pulled out of the parking lot.

I consoled myself with a trip to Saks and a frozen yogurt. I only wish that would work with my more significant disappointments.