In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Immortalized in Stone.” Your personal sculptor is carving a person, thing or event from the last year of your life. What’s the statue of and what makes it so significant?
The statue could be stone, but it has to be a piece of kinetic art, a person, me, with a stone carving of a Siberian husky at my feet. The moving piece would be my arm which would reach out and pull back over and over again.
That’s what this year has been. I moved away from my home of 30 years and retired from my career of 35 and crossed the Rocky Mountains and arrived in a small Colorado town where I’m trying to make a life. My very elderly Siberian husky, Lily T. Wolf, after suffering canine senile dementia (she was heading into her 16th year) was put to sleep in March. The moving arm? I am challenged with making connections here. It isn’t that people aren’t nice to me and welcoming — they most certainly are — but my pattern so far has been to join in and drop out.
Last winter I joined an online writing workshop with a “school” in Denver. It was supposed to last 8 weeks. I didn’t even make 4. I hated it, mostly because 1) a lot of the writing was bad so I felt like I was back teaching writing, 2) culture shock; the young have taken over and the ethic of good writing is not my ethic. In fact, their ethics are not my ethics. [I had a verbal altercation with a young person here on WordPress over just that, the over-sanitized emasculated world view that is regarded as “tolerance” these days is excruciatingly dishonest and intolerant (IMO). You see, I’d called a bimbo a bimbo…] Some — most — of the participants in the workshop were not among “the young,” however. They were, like me, retirees. But the difference was they were in the workshop because they knew they “had a book” in them. I was there because I had a book OUT THERE. I don’t think a person who “has a book” in them needs a workshop. That book (like a zit, like a splinter, like a baby) is going to come out… And then the story was compared to Tolstoy when it should have been compared to Dostoyevsky. They couldn’t keep their Russian writers straight.
Then I joined an artist co-op. It seemed like a great thing, a place to hang paintings and nice people to know, but it didn’t turn out that way for me. I came face-to-face with something I’d hoped to leave behind forever when I left teaching and that is an intense — and mutual — interpersonal dislike. I couldn’t believe that I was in the middle of a completely elective activity, comprising people who were there from no other motivation than goodwill, and there actually was a person vying for power, a competitive, dogmatic, manipulative, controlling bitch. This was not my assessment alone; it turned out to be a prevailing view of this person, but, unlike the others, I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t handle being in 2 hour meetings with her, I didn’t want to risk a casual encounter with her, I didn’t want to look at her paintings — in fact, when hers went up in the shop, mine came down to be replaced by drawings — good drawings — but the place ceased being a place where I wanted to hang my work.
“You’re not going to like everyone,” I told myself. But it seems that my skin is inside-out, at least partly, and my ability to tolerate is vastly diminished. I wonder; is it from years of being forced to tolerate, work with and motivate hundreds of people every year with no choice? No way to say, “No, I’m not dealing with this”? I even ended a 30 year friendship with a woman in California because I couldn’t stand her calling me and ranting endlessly about her abusive boyfriend and her health problems (they are related). Have I turned into a quitter?
I don’t know… But a sculpture of this past year would definitely include Lily T. Wolf and my arm, reaching out and pulling back.