What are you lookin’ at?
Did I invite you in?
What are you lookin’ at?
What are you lookin’ at?
Did I invite you in?
It’s still technically Monday morning as I write this excruciating tale – food for thought on the life of a rapidly aging artist type old lady. I am feeling wobbly, unbalanced, bruised and stressed. I guess it’s my old lady weekend hangover.
This tale will cover the following tragic elements:
1. Recusal from jury duty
2. An art scam
3. A bloody fall
4. A bruised ego
5. The denouement: A Stunning Realization
Can you handle it? If not, leave this page now.
This Morning, Mon. 11:14 am – I woke in my bed with my head on a toweled pillow to catch any stray blood oozing in the night, and panicked that my cats may have been breathing their fowl breath on my head in the night. But oddly, the two were curled innocently on the other side of my queen size bed as if in unison, same pose, both facing the same direction. Snoozing.
According to my current retirement habit, I lay in bed for another hour pondering the universe, then one cat came over to breathe on my head from her bacteria laden mouth. So I got up, split a can of Fancy Feast between them, adding a subversive supplement called “Plaque Control” which is supposed to sweeten their breath. I still am not sure there has been any change however. After their food had been scarfed down in a mere 2 minutes, they remained at bowl side, begging not silently for the next course. The black and white one does the bitching, the half Siamese one waits patiently. This time I decline to be roped into giving them the crunchy morsels of dry food they expect is their right. The vet has told me the dry food makes them fat.
I walk away. To the computer. To describe my harrowing weekend.
Friday – Perhaps it all started on Friday night. All week I had been on “call-in” jury duty. I was to call again after 4:30 pm. I called about 6:00. No need to come in and I was recused for a year. I had mixed feelings about that. As a hermit artist I had secretly been hoping I would need to go in at some point to the civil courts in San Francisco, not far from where I live. I had fantasized about being stuck in a room (jury pool) filled with human beings. Maybe I would even have occasion to talk to some of them. Maybe I would actually get picked for a jury and have the opportunity to put my legal skills to the test. But no, recused. But that was ok too, I would not need to leave my “comfort zone.” Just carry on. I was not needed, nothing new.
About mid-day I checked my email. Lo and Behold (or Hallelujah?) I had an inquiry sent from my little art gallery website email at bonniefollett.com, from someone wanting to buy art for their wife who “loves your work” – now that alone should have been a tip-off, but we artists can always hope that someone somewhere will find our work online and actually like it enough to buy it. So it put me into something of a panic mode. They wanted to know which pieces were immediately available for purchase. I didn’t know. Some of my originals are in San Francisco but many or most are in my Arizona house. So this inquiry alone set me to updating my art logs and investigating what was where and that took hours. I finally decided to write this man a confirmation email that I would get back to him in the morning on Sunday, with a list of available work, and stating that some artworks were in Arizona and might take longer to get shipped. Then I went back to continue honing down what was where and how much I would actually want to charge for each original painting.
I had another email waiting from “John Owen”, email address firstname.lastname@example.org, in response to my last email. No – no, he didn’t need to know everything available. He was in a great hurry and only needed to know what could be immediately shipped to be gifted as a surprise to his art-loving wife, therefore only my pieces with me in San Francisco were of interest to him. That was a relief, and by then I was able to send him a list of each piece available and prices, also providing a link to the pages on my website where there were images of each original displayed.
I then panicked again, not knowing which of the 7 pieces I had emailed him he might want to purchase. I knew I had to fully clean each of these 7 artworks. Most are tucked away collecting dust and grime after many years of neglect. The others were on my walls and very nicotine stained from a crazed artist smoking too much too often. So I set about first with cleaning the two watercolors which were framed under glass, taking apart the frame and meticulously cleaning everything associated with the potential sale.
While doing so I realized it was about time I did this cleaning task. How unprofessional of me not to be prepared for legitimate buyers of my art. And I decided to take new camera raw photos of my work if any were going to end up elsewhere. So I scrolled up my window blinds to get the best light possible, set up my tripod, and set about photographing the watercolors, first on iPhone (in the current framing) and then out of the frames to get the full CR photos for my records. By the time I got done and put the watercolors back in their new and shiny framing for potential sale, I was wiped out and took a break before I started in on cleaning the larger acrylic paintings with dust and nicotine stains. I finally decided I would wait until after I cooked and ate my dinner, since I had not eaten anything but peanut butter, crackers and coffee all day.
It was starting to get dark, so I knew I would do no more photographing that day. I started to let down my window blinds to the level where I usually keep them. In doing so there was one in the middle of the 3 windows where the blind slices at top were funky. Being somewhat anal, I cannot let this go.
I quickly get up on a wooden chair and lean in to snatch that ugly stray twisted blind…
As my weight shifts, the chair flips violently out from under me, sending me flying backwards into a very cluttered space. I feel myself flying, then the jar of hitting my head on something sharp, then I am on the ground battered and bruised. I know enough to remain for a few moments to catch my bearings. When I do so, I notice blood gushing everywhere! Uh… blind panic!!!! This is why people have “life alerts” right? Not me, I’m still too young! So realizing my blood was getting all over my ONE nice oriental carpet, I try to gather myself up to find something to catch up all the blood. I trail blood all over my apartment not knowing what to use. What do I not care about getting blood on???? I decided on a towel and go to my bathroom (while dripping blood on the floors) where I have been using a conveniently shaded burgundy red bath towel. I still felt alert even though panicked. Should I call someone just in case I later lose consciousness???
I decide yes, so I call a friend who lives across the San Francisco Bay. I let him know what’s going on. He urges me to go down the street to Emergency at the local hospital. Good idea. I’m pretty sure by this time I do not have the medical knowledge to figure out how bad things might be. And well, I have seen lots of TV shows where someone is pushed and hits their head on a stone fireplace and then soon after they’ve passed out and died, and Jessica Fletcher (of Murder She Wrote) later comes in to the scene to realize that the police have it all wrong. I could be that dead person… not impossible, even though at the moment I seemed to be conscious.
So I tell my friend I will call him in an hour or so from the hospital. Naturally, since I am a hermit artist type, at 7:15 pm I am still in my pajamas from the previous night. So I have to try to clean up a little, get dressed, and then I noticed all the blood in the bathroom. I did not want my cats to get into that, or put blood paw prints everywhere, so I quickly tried to wipe some of that up while holding a towel to my very bloody head.
But I make it out the door and down the street as other pedestrians wondered why I was holding a bloody towel to my head. No one asked though. By the time I was at the ER in the hospital 3 blocks away I realized I had forgotten to take my phone, which was charging on my bed stand. My friend had told me he would drive over from across the Bay if he didn’t hear from me in an hour. Oh well… nothing I could do once at the hospital. I got checked in and sat by an older lady and started a conversation. She had suffered a black stool earlier and had gone to the ER to get herself checked out. She did not seem aware of my bloody head, she instead told me all about her stools. She was done and waiting for a cab. As she hobbled away slowly for the cab now waiting outside for her, I realized that could be me in a few years. In fact, maybe it was me now.
The Sunday Night Exam and Treatment – I think I’ll spare you some of the details. Suffice it to say, the staff was very attentive in their routine professional way. They took my blood pressure, a few details for the chart, and then sent me off to an exam room for treatment. A lot of waiting and staring at the curtains on the glass wall… and periodically someone coming in with a “poor dear” or “how’s the pain”. I had already told them there was no major pain (maybe a 3 on a scale of 10), just a lot of stinging. I am not much of a cry baby about pain until it hits up there a few notches. This wasn’t considered bad by my standards. I realized I do look like an old lady and they were trying to be nice. I was ok with that. They don’t know I am a bad ass.
The highlight for me was getting a gurney ride down the cavernous hallways to get a CT scan. I was impressed with the skill of the gurney driver, dodging all that stuff in the hallways. And I felt like a star on a TV show enroute to the operating room after a gunshot wound. The CT was whoosh whoosh whoosh – and then back to the room again. Eventually, a young female doctor (or tech?) prepped me for the stitches in my head. “This is gonna hurt!” But it hardly hurt much at all, just more like sharp pinching and stinging. I had a three inch laceration and got 8 staples in the head.
Before I was to be released they came in with a narc type pill for my pain. I told them I was walking home and could I take the pill once I got home and might actually start feeling pain? They said No, you have to take it here or not at all. I told them no, I would skip it, but was marveling at how easily they want to dole out pain drugs like this. And I wondered if that would be charged for on my bill, even though I didn’t take it. I am a cheap bitch, what do they charge for one pill anyway? I’ve heard: more than they should.
Back at Home – I should have probably gone to bed right away since it was after 11:00 pm, but of course, being a hermit artist, I am not glued to schedules. And I still had amazingly blood-matted hair, every which way and that, all very curly and encrusted. So I took a bath and enjoyed the rusty brown glow of the waters. I dried off and went back to the computer.
On the computer I decided I needed to work up a Certificate of Authenticity for the upcoming art purchase from ”John Owen” in “North Carolina”. So I research what to include, and started drafting my own Certificate – that of course I can use on all my many future art sales once Mr. Owen’s wife brags to her rich friends about the great artist she found online. Such a certificate helps with establishing the provenance of the artworks of any great artist like myself. So yeah, I get that going at 1:00 am with eight staples in my head.
Then I decide to check my email since John Owen always seems to write at a certain time of night. So yes, there was the expected email waiting for me, sent just a few minutes before.
The Last Email from the Purported Art Purchaser –
After the first two somewhat legitimate sounding emails, suddenly things seem to have become very complicated with the art purchaser. I had told him shipping costs would be added to any purchase price once I got an estimate from my shipping service. But No, it wasn’t necessary for me to worry about arranging shipping. He would have his own shipper pick up the artwork at my address. And he was suddenly moving to the Philippines for his job, and he would therefore send a check in advance, and blah-de-blah-de-blah. By this time, yeah, I know. Not real. But I searched for “art purchase scams” online and got a whole slew of artists with the same experience or worse. (see links below for more info) In my defense, I had searched this guy’s email address and name online when he first wrote me. Nothing much there at first check. So I had thought maybe he was for real. But No, of course not. Another scammer with a fake name. It was a psychic let down. Really? No one had actually liked my work after all? (How do these scams work? – They send you a check for more than the purchase price, ask for a check back from you for the mistake made and steal your artwork that they can apparently sell somewhere (at a flea market maybe)? Meanwhile gathering as much personal information about you as they can, that they can also sell off to unscrupulous beings.
So I was freed before going any farther with falling for this art purchase scheme. I am still wondering whether I should write him back and give him a line of bull like he gave me. Not sure, but I am still composing that in my head. Most people recommend once you know it is a scam, drop all contact. But I think now that we’ve established a relationship, he might be interested in knowing that I was in a freak car accident and had to suddenly move to Venezuela or Nigeria (or someplace exotic) where my only living relative is and where they can care for me in my extended convalescence. Therefore I can’t have that painting available for immediate pickup. But part of me wants to get that big check too, so that I can frame it and put it on my wall.
So that was my weekend. And now it’s Monday. I am freed from having to do any more stressing about getting an artwork prepared for a purchaser or convincing them to use my PayPal account for payment. I would never had sent them anything before any payment was fully completed. But my advice for other artists is – BEWARE! Our fragile egos really want to believe that someone out there really does like our artwork!! And that someone would be willing to actually buy it! I sure did!! It was beginning to rejuvenate my faith that maybe I could actually sell my art after all. And maybe I should get back to doing more original on canvas or watercolor paintings. (I have concentrated more on photography in recent years.)
As long as I didn’t fall for the scam, the scammer did me one favor. He/she got me to thinking more professionally about the status of my personal artwork and on what I could be doing with my art. Sort of a “clean up your act” moment for me.
I think I promised a “Stunning Realization” above in regards to my Monday morning old lady wild weekend hangover. Hmmmm, maybe I stretched the truth about that, but there is that thing just mentioned about becoming more professional and doing more original paintings. Hermit artists (and I suspect there are many others like me out there) tend to find a “comfort zone” in being unsuccessful. It becomes your routine. And that IS my artistic comfort zone after a few years of only making very small commissions when my artwork is printed on products at fineartamerica or pixels or redbubble, etc. You don’t make a living on it. It seems you are lucky if you get anything at all for the many hours you spend on it. So I do need to adjust my comfort zone or at least be aware of it and that I could change what that comfort zone is for me. I guess that’s a realization.
Another realization – I was really lucky not to have had my “fall and damage head“ accident before my medicare and supplemental insurance had kicked in. Something as simple as getting stitches in my head could really have set me back financially. I’m not terribly old, but old enough to realize the aging process is speeding up rapidly. So it’s past time to be extra careful when getting up on chairs or ladders… I am not as balanced or aware of my body as I used to be. But is it “Life Alert” time? I don’t know about that. I fell, but I COULD get up…
As I sat in my ER exam room last night I also realized that this – that a “visit to the ER” is entertainment for lonely old ladies. Hurt yourself and go to the ER and get some attention and human contact. Cool! A new idea of FUN emerges as you get older and older, and older and older…, and older…. and fffttttt!!!!! You are gone.
Maybe a new dimension follows, one where people really do like your art and value something about you. Who knows?
More info on Art Scams:
It’s Mother’s Day and although my Mom is gone now, it is always a day to remember her. So I am posting some pictures in her memory. Of course we will always miss her, but I and my siblings will always have the memories.
Mom and Dad met in St. Paul where Mom lived with her parents and sister. He was a truck driver prior to going into the service in WW II. Her cousin was my Dad’s best friend and introduced them.
I took this photo of Mom at our family’s lake cabin in Minnesota. She was never really too fond of all the work for her that planning and keeping food into our hungry mouths required when she was away from civilization… But she did enjoy nightly fishing out on the lake with Dad during the sunset hours. And here she is doing a lake walk with her fishing pole. Putting together puzzles in the cabin would ensue after dark once the fish were tucked into the fish box.
Zipper was my cat that I got in college, but left behind with Mom when I moved to California in the late 1970’s. They had a special bond, as the photo shows.
Mom loved the Grandkids and she had plenty of them, this was just one. I know who but I’m not saying for privacy sake.
All the pictures of Mom were usually surrounded by lots of extraneous activity, so I took this one, cropped her out of a group and erased the background. She is wearing one of her snazzy Christmas sweaters.
Mom in her usual habitat, at the kitchen table, enjoying a visit from her grand-daughter and one of the grandkids.
This photo was taken of my Mom sleeping after coming home from the nursing home. She had severe Alzheimers, and was in a nursing home for awhile after Dad had great difficulty caring for her at home in the later stages of this difficult disease. Once the doctors were certain she didn’t have much time left, she came home, and all of her girls were there to care for her. The only place big enough for a hospital bed was the dining area, so here she is set up in what was her favorite spot anyway, a room with windows to the garden and birds and squirrels. She never lost her good humor and enjoyment of life in spite of Alzheimers, and seemed to have a difficult time deciding on whether to leave this world. But here she is on a bright Spring day, snoozing, with rainbows on her pillow.
This is a little photo painting of my Mom’s hands from a very bad quality photo. I think it turned out well considering. I was always fascinated by my Mother’s hands. They were gnarly and liver-spotted and had been through alot. She was a homemaker all her life after marriage, and as her mother taught her, she made fantastically heavy and nourishing homemade bread. I suspect the problems she had with her hands (carpal tunnel surgeries etc.) were caused by all the kneading of bread she did over the years. Every week, 10-12 loaves of bread, sometimes more it seemed. Nothing like it fresh from the oven.
Thanks Mom!! I love you!
It’s the Presidential Election Day here in the U.S., so I’ve titled this post “Pray for the USA” because its been such a contentious election season here and nerves have become so frazzled, with tension and dissension very high, but everyone seems to feel the same today: “So glad it’s almost over!!” – I don’t know who won yet and won’t for several hours, but I did go out and cast my vote!
On election days I make a hike up a very steep hill up to California Street at meeting rooms of Grace Cathedral. There I usually am greeted by an old friend who always works the polls on election days. I was expecting a long, long line, but this time I did go late enough in the morning to thankfully miss the crowd of people voting before their work days. Lots of people vote by mail these days or drop off their ballots at City Hall, but I always like the challenge of getting up that hill! We had almost 3 dozen other ballot measures this year – a very long ballot.
Anyway, long story short, after voting I made a stop up in the Cathedral to cast my little prayer up north to the guy upstairs, you know who I mean… Let’s hope and pray that whoever gets in will do a great job, despite everyone’s fears in this election season. While there, I just had to get out my iPhone for some pics – the organist was practicing today and wonderful music, light and spirituality flowed in there today.
Anyway, sharing my church photos below!
Wish us luck with the new president!
For some reason this 15th year anniversary of 9/11 has affected me more than the other anniversaries of that fateful date in American and World history. It started when I decided to respond on a public forum about where I was that day. Soon long buried memories were flooding back to me! It is still difficult to acknowledge the tragedy and the grief so many have felt since that day. And how the world has changed, our whole culture shifting to acknowledge as a day to day fact of life that terrorists can and will continue to strike.
On September 11th 2001, I was at home in bed and a friend called me to “TURN ON THE TV!” around 7:30 a.m. – I thought “huh?” but went ahead and turned on the TV to see video of the first plane crashing into the tower. It seemed so surreal, but of course I kept watching all day, horrified at what was going on in NYC. The next day I went to an interfaith memorial service held at Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in San Francisco. During this service of national mourning the music and a choir from Oakland sang so beautifully that it made me cry even today to think about how we all felt that day. Because while I was in that church, I experienced a huge sense of spirituality permeating and surrounding the place and during this time I felt one of the people who had died contact me. She was desperate about having left this life without a proper goodbye to her family and children. And I also saw in my mind a replay of what had happened to her in the second tower when it came down. That was on my mind for a long time and I later tried to figure out who she was from pictures I saw posted of the missing from that day. I believed I found her there, but of course I can never know for sure.
I will not recount here what I saw in this vision, or the other contacts I felt with this person off and on for days and weeks after that. But back in 2001 I did search online for any information I could find on this person and her family. I thought of contacting them but was always too confused and uncertain whether I should pursue that or whether I should even trust my own perceptions. Many people simply don’t believe in this type of thing and I didn’t want to make anything worse at a difficult time.
With my memories stirred up today, I felt this person again with a sense that she is more at peace now, but still with thoughts of her family. I have never talked very much about this whole experience, because I don’t want to be ridiculed I guess, or because I can’t be sure, or whatever. But all day I have felt the need to say her name out loud again. To publish her name. To remember her. Whenever I think of 9/11 I will forever think of Grace Alegre Cua, a name now inscribed on the 9/11 Memorial for posterity. And I wish her family well wherever they are.
Locked up in a loony bin ? No silly, just ignoring this blog I started awhile back. I was doing a variety of things, job hunting, going to school, redesigning websites, traveling a small bit, hermiting with my kitties who suffered 2 devastating losses this year: their friend Amazon the cockatiel and Ooley the elderly but regal cat, passed on earlier this year. I hope to be more active with this blog soon. I do like the new theme being used, changed it today, and added a background photo I took recently up in Northern California or southern Oregon(?) while coming back from a trip to see my Dad for his 96th birthday.
Check the link ABOVE for My Freaky Little Self-Portrait Slideshow.
CAUTION: Contains photos of fatigued, tired late night former paralegal, some skin, bad hair. depression, goofiness, bad makeup, false eyelashes, tattooed lady, bad acting, etc. Highly revealing of the perils of not getting enough sleep and too much fooling around with my iMac Photo Booth over an approximate 2-3 year period 2007-2010. Call and send me a shrink if you think it may be appropriate.
This month’s Free First Tuesday at SF MOMA was attended by yours truly and hundreds of others. I found it as interesting to people-watch as to art-watch. On exhibit were a variety of pieces from the museum’s permanent collection, and referred to as “Calder to Warhol.” I thoroughly enjoyed the art and the people who were reviewing the galleries with me. By the end of the afternoon I found myself wondering why it is that people enjoy Art at all. But they so obviously do. People were smiling, laughing, really having a good time. So just what is it about art that brings about this positive response? The exhibited pieces can run a gamut from somewhat simplistic (the “I coulda done that!” pieces) to those created with very complex and difficult craftsmanship. Some pieces are merely mind-boggling (the “Huh?!” pieces).
So by the end of my visit I was asking myself the age-old question “What is Art?” And why do people enjoy it? My conclusion on this first Tuesday was that people find art, any kind of art, stimulates their imaginations and causes them to feel that creation is something possible in all of us. Anything juxtaposed with anything can cause you to ask yourself questions, or to look at something in a new way or to think something more is possible outside of our mundane day to day existence, the daily work and routine of our lives. Good art has nothing to do with ego or even a faithful and skilled representation of “reality”.., it has much more to do with “I wanna put this with that and sprinkle it with sequins….” – not because it will cause the artist to be considered “brilliant” but because you just want to make something new that appeals to you. And if someone else wants to try to figure out where you were coming from, let ’em! The “artistic process” or the medium is also not really very important. It is the fact that art is created at all and put into an objective form and brings us out of our stuck routines and into the present moment. Art is a subtle challenge to our minds, spirit and soul. And we seem to appreciate that. Whether art is minimalist or complex, it evokes a needed response in its audience.
For me, the best art is something that doesn’t quite make sense, it seems a little “off” for some reason. And because of that, it becomes Art because I must “see” it, I recognize my surprise or awe, and in so doing I am brought out of the fog and into a different place, a place with more clarity and vivid presence.
Twas nice to know the Follett girls could still kick up a fuss. We descended on Key West in pieces. I was first to arrive and to wonder why that nice Cuban family was standing atop the entrance to the little airport terminal building. I looked at flyers for various Key West attractions while awaiting the next to arrive. An hour later 2 more middle-aged white ladies pulled in from the tarmac. By cellphone texts we found the other two had missed their flight and were not able to fly in until later. So after a bit of stressing we hailed a cab and arrived minutes later at our condo rental. A nice young security guard from North Dakota checked us in and we did a brief tour of our luxury condo.
It didn’t take long to realize we needed some booze. So we headed off and walked a couple blocks down to our local Irish pub. Downed a few there, had some great food and then it was off to the liquor store !! Laden with bags of wine and beer and chips, we hobbled back on foot to the condo, soon to be joined by the last stragglers. Having not been all together in one place for the last few years, the cackling was soon to start.
The booze and cigarettes flowed on the spacious veranda overlooking the pool and beach below. The quiet condo community was soon to feel as though nails were screeching on a blackboard. A few hoots turned into alot of hoots and a few light cackles relaxed into the full blown synchronized cackles of five 50’s something old ladies. And by God it was almost 11:00 at night and neighbors began to call out “Shut up!!!!” and similar fare.
Soon our cute little security guard was knocking on our door trying to explain how we had to keep it down, there were old people who needed their sleep and such. Old people? We had all become accustomed to thinking we were old, could there really be people out there older than ourselves? People who preferred to sleep at 11:00 at night? Suddenly we each came to our own epiphanies that we still had it… Yes, we still had it after all… that God-given ability to irritate the rest of the world while simultaneously enjoying each other’s company to an apparently unacceptable degree! How splendid !
Getting antsy for my vacation – I will be spending 7 glorious days with my sisters in Key West, Florida very soon. Hope to have fun, relax, get silly, drink a bit too much and see lots of sun, water and crocodiles. Or crockodiliads as my brain thinks of them. What the difference between a crock and an alligator ? I must research this. Get me packed…. get me ass out the door …. !!!!