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saje
01-01-2012, 01:23 PM
depression circles around some artists as family, friends and personally; especially many of those that delve into the creative edge of their being. when depression goes 'too far' release becomes a wall that we build upon ourself and allow others to build around us. when the wall begins to close in we allow the edge of our identification a pecarious position.

family and friends alike influence my dreams. this sculpture is for them

http://youtu.be/-Cw7bztjNlo

La_
01-01-2012, 03:04 PM
what type of 'clay' do you use, saje?

la

saje
01-01-2012, 04:20 PM
hey La, happy new year to ya!

the sculpture is plaster (19"x12"x5"). i preform with clay. i harvest the clay out of the ground, liquidify it, sift it and then let the moisture evaporate. the clay fires red at a stoneware firing but i haven't done that for a long time. i use the clay to get rid of the excess plaster so that i use less materials. the character of hand dug clay, to me, is totally different than bought. on this sculpture i didn't use any color but liquidified clay.

ianuk
01-01-2012, 07:23 PM
When I was a kid. There wasn't much work around, I didn't have the best education, me and my brother would walk the streets looking for work. Usually we'd get work on building sites, doing groundwork, digging footing trenches, concreting, it was pretty heavy work. At the end of the day my muscles ached and I felt good, although tired. During the time I was digging I'd find a really nice smooth piece of clay, sometimes red, others grey. I'd sculpt it into a figure or whatever, usually in the form of a workman and I'd use the other workmen as my models. When I'd finished, the clay just went back into the trenches. I enjoyed the relaxation it gave me between the work. Those were good days, no application forms, no interviews. The foreman set you on and, if you were lazy or no good, he fired you that evening. fortunately, I was never fired, many were.

We all build our own prisons, we rarely stray out of the place we reside and if we do, it is for vacation or to visit only. We stay in our own small areas and build the walls in our minds that keep us there, our places of safety. I am guilty of this, I should get out more, I should be more adventurous. I will try to be so.

La_
01-02-2012, 01:33 AM
rightfully so we are all prisoners of our own castles and to a major extent our own destinies.
barring major clinical depression we all fluctuate in energy and enthusiasm

it makes me think of a ponder about human life spans being 1000 years instead of the mere 100 we're posed with ... would one be overwhelmed with the vastness of that many years or driven more to fill it with accomplishment ...

hny right back atcha = )

la

saje
01-02-2012, 10:02 AM
hey inauk, a most excellent interpretation. from my limited pre-conception you have opened the topic of the sculpture. i am still limited by my own person, as thus my own blocks of the wall around me. as always, the sculpture that my fingers once shaped, now only have my fingerprints and no memory of whom i am-but this is creative art allowed-thankyou!

saje
01-02-2012, 10:19 AM
La, "barring major clinical depression" and then recognizing flucuations, is it possible we can, here, open the discussion through the imagery of our artwork. i know you can. your work touches the edges of isolation, shadow, self and such.

could you post some images communicating through your artwork?

anyone else, please, post your imagry??

this could be a topical discussion using the image created to communicate inner being, which, is in a position of strength as being on the edge. thanks!

La_
01-02-2012, 01:02 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Jan-2012/84648-d_wide_face.jpg

an early acrylic piece from '06, about the time i knew my marriage was essentially over
(foot and a half tall by about three feet wide, masonite)

la

Irrylath
01-02-2012, 07:43 PM
"barring major clinical depression" means most of my work is out. Not that I did much when it was at it's height...(yay for prozac!)

It's interesting, realizing I have no frame of reference for externally induced negative feelings.

La_
01-12-2012, 01:49 PM
art and emotional stability - why limit the discussion to depression when there are so many emotions to pick from :cat:

creating art is a form of therapy, quite beneficial to my sanity, and when lined up in order of dates of construction, a timeline of emotion is quite evident.

i expect this would also apply to works of still life and other such pretty paintings, but probably more evident in works without reference, works from within.

here's a less depressing one ... a mixture of emotions to play with ...
(title: 7, size: biggish, 36 x 24 or so, medium: oils, surface: canvas)(sold ages ago).
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jan-2012/84648-7_woman.jpg

la

Maureen Grantham
01-13-2012, 05:42 AM
I wish I could paint the depression out of me, but I seem to get stuck in inertia and add stress about this to the depressive feelings. Life isn't so good always!

sharkbarf
01-13-2012, 05:16 PM
Mania!!

Scientist say we live in an infinite fluctuating wave pattern.
Understanding this helps to see that humans too have ups and downs like a wave.

What always helps me is knowing if I can make it for a little bit longer, eventually the wave will begin is ascent again. Of course this is two sided though because when your in an upswing, you should have the foresight to see that eventually what goes up must come down.

Knowing the struggle is probably the most important part. Even if you can't see past your depression, somewhere in the back of your mind you know you'll make it through.

saje
01-13-2012, 09:58 PM
i don't think we can 'art' the emotions out but we can express the emotion. an expression of the emotions can be a venting. as La said there are many emotions so we don't need to limit ourselves to a depression post. clinical depression may require drugs as a chemical necessity to give a chance to have some self control. making art is a ligitimate method of therapy by emotive expression.

Personally, i can't make art that is not an image of and by the emotions. i cannot just make something nice, pretty, a scene or even still. with two grandchildren in varying times of diagnosed depresson, i have to speak of my inner angst for them as for others. if i dream of passing the curtains of death, i have to sculpt the dream. if we the people of earth are killing the planet, i make a sculpture of that. when my mother died, i stated that as an image of the passing soul, spoken. i am reading a book "the empiness of the image" by Parveen Adams and i am making a sculpture of the inner emotions that 3d interpreted what i read. capitalism, the twin towers of 9/11, creativity, conservatism, ecstatic naturalism, Vermeer's "woman writing a letter"; i have even done a wc discusson or two-on and on. the emotion is all that i have and am.

Maureen, from what i see in the last abstract you posted, your inner expression is coming out. ""SHOUT""

Irrylath, i am happy for you that you have found help, most excellent!

Maureen Grantham
01-14-2012, 04:04 AM
Thanks Saje, I am working on improving my painting constantly, just get stopped for a bit when I have a blue time. There is some emotion in my work that I recognise and like, and its absence when I am blue, bothers me.

roxyart
01-14-2012, 10:38 AM
I guess I deal with depression through art differently.

First off, when I'm severely depressed, I don't do artwork..my judgement and concentration is off. Otherwise, I tend to draw really cheerful things...maybe compensation? I think the times I'm not depressed, I just want to celebrate.

josephxengraver
01-15-2012, 09:43 PM
One of my more depressed days,1982 the day I met my Maker and lived to tell.

Irrylath
01-16-2012, 12:17 PM
I love the tiny little church in the background, it's very telling.

Saje, thanks! It was only once my crazy seratonin levels got medicated into normalcy that I really "felt" art. Now I'm trying to start up a business that is commission based (painting pets), so I can't really afford to get too much into moods. But unless I want them to feel empty I need to scrounge up feeling. Any words of wisdom for that situation?

olive oyl
01-17-2012, 08:52 AM
Joseph: That image is one of the most...unsettling, and sad images I've seen in awhile. I only hope things are going much better for you these days. And that wish goes out to anybody else here who suffers from depression.

Thankfully, I've never been really depressed but sad, moody, grumpy, weepy...yes. I've often wondered how I escaped that since my family was pretty dysfunctional, although dysfunction in familes is all relative, I suppose. (oh haha that was a pun). Hasn't it been said that depression is anger turned inward? Maybe I'm getting that wrong, but in my case expressing anger (and I had a lot), directed the negativity outward and helped me from falling too far inside. But I'm also sure I'll never win any miss congeniality awards as a result. Another thing that saved me was laughter. I manage to find humor in almost everything and sometimes to the point of insensitivity. Maybe that's just called "irreverence" because I know for a fact there's not a lot I "revere." Really, I don't even know how reverence works. But I just can't believe how absurd we (humans) are, and how crazy-weird our real world actually is. You know...laugh...to keep from crying. I suppose this means I'll never will win any miss sensitivity awards either although I DO have my wittiest girl award from the 8th grade that will have to be enough to keep me warm at night.

I think I've developed into some big old tree-person with lots of rings around my core. I'm still fresh and perfectly good way inside but just a little rough and barky around the edges. Sometimes I'll sway and wobble, but by now I've learned how to stay grounded. It's going to take a LOT to blow me over.

josephxengraver
01-17-2012, 03:55 PM
Yes it was a sad day,but I found the will to change that day.I am living a life that is full of smiles and sunshine.I have written a book that should give anyone who is suffering from low self esteem encouragement to free themselves. Here is a bit from that book.
"With all the weights of the past pressing down on me, I walked around the
house, stood in the empty spot of the drive where the Monte Carlo had been.
Stopped, turned around and looked up at the bedroom window where Red most
likely had gone back to sleep. Said goodbye to her, stuck my hand into my jeans
pocket, felt the cold steel of the slender automatic, turned, and crossed the highway
and entered Hood’s Meadow.
Hood’s Meadow was one of the few places nearby that reminded me of my
youth and the dairy farm where I spent the first seven years of my unusual childhood
… A footpath led through the tall pines. The fragrance of resin was in the
air, a beautiful day…Nevertheless, I felt no joy. For the forest was to become my
tomb.
As I walked through the woods, I felt a presence there with me. Soon the dark
sunless shadows of the glade lightened and opened onto the lovely meadow. In
the distance, I could see the white spire of the Derry Village church. I found a
large stump of an old oak tree and sat down. I sat for the longest while, head
bowed, eyes open, not thinking or seeing, and then I began to cry. Long sobs
emanated from the pit of my stomach, I wept until there was not a tear left
within my soul.
8 A Gifted Man
“God, I am a profane, fornicating, lying, sordid man who has no right to ask
for anything. Please help me” and more tears began to flow.
It was at this moment a young woodchuck came out of its den close by; the
movement of its body caught my eye. I watched it sit up and look carefully
around, and then begin to eat the greening leaves of the shrubs.
I suddenly began to talk to the small harmless animal that I had once killed
with a bloody ferocity in my youth.
Drawing from memory
“I wish I were you,” I said to it. “You do not care a damn about your family.
You have no rent to pay or car to lose. You live in peace. You are one of God’s
creations.” Miserably I thought “God.”
I wondered. Why was I on this planet? If all life has a purpose, what is mine?
What am I doing here with this pistol in hand ready to splatter my brains over
the green grass of this meadow?”
It then occurred to me that perhaps why I ended up here so low and lost, was
because I would not believe or kneel. I sat there for the longest while, trying to
make some sense out of my unhappy life. Everything had come to failure and
degradation, I had lost every thing I had loved and worked for, during the fifteen
years of my first marriage: wife, home, business, and most importantly the parenthood
of children whom I dearly loved.
Now this second marriage was beginning to crumble. What could I do? How
was I to obtain the respect of the omnipotent force in the Galaxy? The only good thing about me, as far as I was concerned,
was the ability to use my hands.
The woodchuck suddenly whistled in alarm, arousing me from those sad
thoughts. I slowly lowered the hammer of the pistol, as I did so a thought entered my mind.
Maybe, just maybe, I am here on this earth to set an example. Perhaps
if I devote myself, He will notice me drowning. At that precise second, the Presence intervened.
“I will help you.” A voice said.
Then an idea came to me, I would become an engraver.
I would dedicate my work to the Universal spirit, God if you will, a tree if you
wish, and when I had succeeded I would write a book to repay this debt.
Gaining the universal-spirit’s respect was a huge if not impossible task for the
kind of a man I was … Me, a broke, lying, stealing, profane, atheist who was
repairing junk guns and Saturday night pistols.
“God is going to notice me. Fat chance of that happening, maybe when hell
freezes over,” I said aloud.
“Stop lying,” the Presence clearly said. “First you must stop lying to others;
your brain is so full of lies that it won’t function. Start telling the truth.”
I had the vision of a customer asking if I had stolen the firing pin I was replacing
in his gun and me replying, “Yes, I stole it from the gun dealer who dropped
my services.”
“Stop stealing, do these two simple things is all I ask” the Presence had spoken
again.
I got up from the stump, unloaded the pistol, made my way home. It was then
that I started writing in a journal. The first entry reads
God exists and one day I will prove it.
Joseph,
June 14th, 1980

saje
01-17-2012, 04:55 PM
Joseph--you have touched the depths of my soul-a shiver runs down my back as if a search for truth-this is real, this is art, inspiration, survival and the bare presence of spirit... thanks!

Katie Black
01-17-2012, 11:59 PM
Me too :grouphug:

josephxengraver
01-29-2012, 01:14 PM
I have to say that my journey as an artist has had a few bumps in the road.
I am pleased that you find my writing worth reading and commenting on.Thank you Katie and Saje.
This true story is from another depressing time from my past.
After this life gets better,I go on to better things.
From the book A Gifted Man,memoir of an artist.
"Time passed quickly while sitting on that barstool. I was halfway through
sketching the back bar with its glass, bottles, mirrors, reflections and lights, when the music ended and the partygoers started filing out of the swinging doors.
I put away the sketchbook and pen and sat waiting for Red to show up.
Soon the crowd began to dwindle and alas, there was no one left.
“What the hell?” I thought. “I better see what’s going on. Where is Red? Probably she is in the lady’s room.
Maybe she had too much to drink.”
I walked over to the now-open doors.
A very empty dance floor greeted me.
The only people around were the band members and a big guy with a broom pushing a mountain of bottles, cans, and assorted trash towards a garbage can.
I walked over to the woman’s room, knocked on the door, and then peeked inside.
“Red, are you in here” No answer. “Hey, Red, are you OK?” no one there.
I was so sure she was in there that I entered and started looking in the stalls to see if she had passed out or was sick.
Empty.
Confused, I went back out on the dance floor. The band players had packed up and headed for the back door.
“Hey guys, you see a good looking redhead wearing a green pants suit?”
“Sure man, she left out the back door about a half an hour ago with some
dude named Mac from Alabama,” someone from the band answered.
I was blindsided. I had not seen it coming. I had no idea.
Dumbstruck, I charged out the back door looking for my wife.
The only vehicle sitting in the darkened parking lot was the red Pinto
and the band’s pick up.
“He’s gotten her drunk and kidnapped her,” I thought as I ran around to the
other side of the club expecting to find Mac, his van and kidnapped wife. It was empty and very deserted, abandoned, a black nothing, only the Pinto with its balding tires to meet my dejected eyes.
“Please don’t let this happen. I’ve been trying,” I thought while walking back to the reliable Pinto.
I drove downtown, checking the all-night restaurants, the local motels, and
any all-night establishment I could think of…all empty, totally void, no signs of Red or Mac’s rocking and rolling van.
Around 4 a.m., I called the Lynchburg police department and reported Red missing.
The person I talked too listened to this tale of woe and then asked me
for the details, when I mentioned the 501 club, he interrupted me.
“I see,” said the voice on the line sympathetically. “I’m sorry but we can’t help you now.”
“What do you mean you can’t help me now?” I groaned in desperation, “Some guy from Alabama’s got my wife?”
Finally, he explained, that, to file a missing person report, twenty-four hours had to pass.
Despondent I drove back to our two months-behind in rent trailer
house, where our four-month-old Dobby named Tilly greeted me.
She was whining and wiggling at my feet as I unlocked the kitchen door.
“Come here Tilly,” I muttered. Picked her up and holding her to my chest,
carried her onto the sofa where I crashed, a deceived, confused, 41-year-old man.
Somehow, I made it to bed, lay my distraught body down, and tried to sleep. I lay awake, not moving, eyes open, staring upward at nothing, until the first colors of sunrise filtered through the Venetian blinds. Zombie-like, I got up, brushed
my teeth, fed Tilly, and went outside into the cold morning air.
In the yard grew a tall magnolia tree, its branches reaching heavenward, solid and black.
Beneath it I prayed, “Please, let Red be OK. Let me find her.
I DO NOT DESERVE THIS PUNISHMENT”; I screamed at the top of my lungs.
There was no answer.
I returned to the trailer house, took a sheet of paper from my sketchpad, and wrote:
Red,
I don’t know what was going on last night. I have been looking for you. If you come home and find this note, I’ll be back.
We can straighten this out.
Love, Joseph
I tore off the sheet of paper from the tablet and taped it to the front door in full sight, petted Tilly, got in the Pinto, and drove back to Lynchburg.
I did not know where to begin to look. I started back at the 501 Club, and then drove out
of town looking in every motel parking lot for Mac’s van. North, south, east and west I drove. Every minute, every mile, driving me further into the deepest despair.
I found nothing, not a trace, it was late in the afternoon when I finally
gave up and returned home, worried and exhausted.
I pulled into the dirt driveway where Tilly was waiting, the nub of her tail
wagging back and forth. I picked her up and walked to the door.
There on top of the note I had taped to the door was Red’s response.Her elegant handwriting below my scribbled note. It said it all:
As Ronny Millsap says, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” Gone to Alabama with Mac,
Love, Red
Those words in her delicate feminine writing struck like a sledgehammer with the knowledge that I was a complete failure. My mother was right. I was worthless. I brought grief wherever I went, I would never amount to anything.
I was a *******. I was stupid, and would become someone special when hell froze over.
I gave up as I looked at Red’s note. I could go no further, and could endure no more.
I turned around, Tilly still in my arms and walked back to the Pinto. I got in and drove a quarter of a mile to my neighbor’s house.
Somehow I managed to get myself together long enough to leave Tilly with them.
“My wife left me,” I explained. “So I’m going away and I can’t take Tilly with me. Would you take care of her?”
They would take care of Tilly; they were honest, simple country people.
I could feel myself coming apart as I stood there, dog in my arms. I put her down, returned to the still-running car, and drove off down the red dirt road and back to the highway that led to Lynchburg, Virginia.
A plan had formed in my mind. I was going to kill myself, no bull**** this
time, no outs. I was going to do it with the Pinto and make it look like an accident.
I did not want my children to bear the burden of a father who had blown
his brains all over hell. Besides, I did not have a working gun.
Yes, I knew exactly what I was about to do. Just a short race from town was an overpass. It had two large support structures in the center of the highway. Those two towers of concrete and steel were going to be the final destination.
“Fxxx you God, Fxxx all of you and to hell with it” I yelled, then pressed the accelerator to the floor. I was less than a mile away from the final moment on earth, both hands gripping the steering wheel as if welded to it.
I was screaming at the top of my voice, not words, just piercing screams.
I had my foot on the accelerator pressing it to the floorboards, the Pinto was going as fast as it possibly could. Tears were streaming down my face so freely I could hardly see to drive.
Suddenly, the Pinto started to lose its forward movement.
Seventy-five the speedometer read, then sixty, then fifty, I was screaming and crying. I stomped on the gas,
the engine roared but the car continued to go slower. Finally, I saw it was hopeless and pulled the car off the highway as it rolled to a dead stop.
By then, I had stopped screaming, but my foot still had the accelerator pushed to the floor the engine was still roaring. The transmission was in drive yet the car remained motionless.
I killed the engine, stepped out of the car, pounded on the hood, then giving the door a hard kick, I screamed to the sky, “God! What are you doing to me now?”
If that fluid line to the transmission had not broken at that precise moment, in another 5 seconds I would have destroyed myself.
Leaving the Pinto where it had stopped, I walked the few miles back to the trailer house.
A bottle of French Brandy sat on the top of the refrigerator. It was full and I considered getting drunk, but instead of taking it down and opening it, I sat down at the drawing table and stared in a zombie-like trance.
I may have stared that way for twenty minutes or twenty hours, I do not remember. I do not remember sleeping or eating.
I just sat reviewing my life, and those festers of shame that no one knew about.
The corruption of my childhood, my humiliating academic and military career, my inability to stay at one employment, the awful and tragic marriage and divorce that left me bankrupt.
Every thing swept away. My mother’s words, “I wish I never had you” reverberating in my ears.
Alone at the drawing table in that silent trailer house I wondered.
Who am I?
What am I?
The answer then came to me.
“You are Joseph, you are my creation.”
“And what is my purpose for living?
“To be happy, to be proud of your self, to learn as much as you can while you are
on this earth. This is your reason, this is your purpose.”
Late Sunday evening I made a decision. I was going to continue learning to engrave. I was going to make myself a credit to the human race. I was going to Italy to study. My children needed me. I needed them. I was shattered and weak.
I had to get well, strong again."
Thank you all and have a great day.
Joseph Engraver

AllisonR
01-30-2012, 09:36 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Jan-2012/84648-d_wide_face.jpg

an early acrylic piece from '06, about the time i knew my marriage was essentially over
(foot and a half tall by about three feet wide, masonite)

la

La, your painting is obvious! Was it obvious to you while you were painting it?

The end of my 1st marriage I made a sculpture of a male buttocks with the penis as a snake, so long it wraped around himself, 3 times. Basically strangling himself with his dick. Was beautifully detailed - the scales I made with a small knife and toothpicks - took forever. When I got to the end, months later, I found I had made all the scales in the wrong direction. I learned two things from this. 1) ALWAYS test first - make a dummy, make a model, make a detailed sketch, make something, anything, to be sure you are doing it right. 2.) My husband was a jack-ass.

And Olive Oil - dysfunction in familes is all relative - thanks for that grin.

Joseph - I hope you can stay smooth enough to keep in the land of the living, as long as you should. Thanks for sharing.

Katie Black
01-30-2012, 07:46 PM
Joseph...you write beautifully, thanks for sharing :)

La_
02-02-2012, 11:55 PM
La, your painting is obvious! Was it obvious to you while you were painting it?

2.) My husband was a jack-ass.




no ... it was necessary for me to paint something, anything to help release the emotions (so much cheaper and more effective than therapy ever thought of being), but not as a planned or structured project, just released on to the board with the medium of the month. i felt better, more at peace with the understanding, more accepting of the facts i had to face. don't remember for sure, but it was a quicky piece, like 2 hours or so.
i still like this piece ... it still contains so many emotions for me ... and still brings me peace

:lol: at 2.) ... i can so relate :rolleyes:

la

josephxengraver
02-12-2012, 08:14 PM
Thank you all for reading these writings of mine.As I said things do get better.
Here is part of a chapter

:heart: "A True Love"
“Do you have identification?” she asked.
“Yes,” I had a passport and answered by digging it out of my jeans pocket and handing it to her. We talked for only a few minutes but during that time, I studied her carefully. She was elegantly dressed in a dark brown silk frock decorated in yellow and orange flowers. She wore a simple gold chain around her finely arched neck, matching earrings hung from her delicate earlobes. Tossed carelessly over the back of her chair was a luxurious beaver coat.
“Definitely a city girl,” I smiled...
I had received a letter from Marshal Williams, the Virginia lawyer, wishing me success and saying how much he admired the determination it took to learn engraving Enclosed in the letter was a ten-dollar bill. The letter ended by saying,
“Have a pizza or something on me. Your friend, Marshall.”
I offered to buy Franca and her friend Fiorella a beer and ordered one for Mimo and me.
“Thank you,” Franca replied politely. “I’m leaving early tomorrow morning for the Canary Islands for two weeks and then I shall be going on to Dubai, and after that to Hong Kong. I will be back in about two month’s time. It was nice to meet you; perhaps we shall meet again, Goodnight.” And with that, Franca and her good friend Fiorella left.
“Put her out of your mind, pal,” that voice said to me, “She’s definitely way out of your league.”
Mimo was having a good time with his friends so I retired off to the corner, finished the beer, listened to music for a while, and then went back to the hotel that was just a short distance away. The pain in my foot was too intense to ignore any longer.
From my journal:
Last night, nightmares again, not much progress in my engraving. Today will be a better day. The boots have become a real problem for me but I have no alternative. Even a country boy finds it difficult to walk barefoot in cold and snow.
One spring evening after school I was hobbling along the street headed towards the hotel when a car pulled up alongside. I paid no attention to it or its driver. Suddenly a feminine voice says to me,
“Hey honey, where are you going?”
I thought, “Who in the hell could be calling me honey?”
I looked up to see Franca in her little white Fiat Panda. She pulled over to the curb. I recognized her but didn’t recall her name.
“Hey, nice to see you, when did you come back?” I asked.
Instead of answering my question, she asked me, “Why are you walking so funny?
I answered, “These boots hurt my feet.”
“Why are you wearing them if they hurt your feet?”
“Lady, it’s the only pair I have to wear.”
“Oh, I see,” she answered, then said “Would you like to go somewhere with me this Saturday afternoon?”
“Sure, I’d like that,” I answered.
“I’ll pick you up in front of the hotel at four.”
Smiling, she put the car in gear and roared off up the hill, leaving me standing there with mouth agape in wonderment.
Saturday at 4 o’clock, I was dressed and waiting out in front of the hotel. Just as the church bells began to ring the hour, Franca flew into the square. The Fiat squeaked to a stop. I was truly surprised. The woman had shown up on time. I was impressed. I walked over to the car as she rolled down the window. “Get in,” she said. “I want to take you somewhere.”
I barely seated myself when we were off with a squeak and a lurch. Franca went chatting on about my school and how was I doing. She seemed oblivious to the traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, and the very narrow and winding streets. She kept that beautiful foot of hers pressing on the accelerator while she continued chatting away. I was holding on, expecting a head-on collision any second. I was sure she was going to kill someone. I kept thinking, “I made it all the way to Italy, and this crazy woman is going to kill me in her car. This is not funny, God. Not funny at all.”
Finally, to my relief she stopped the car. I had no clue where I was. I had been so very busy watching the traffic, expecting a crash, that I had lost my direction. I know we were several miles from the hotel. I was seriously considering walking back.
“Come into the house,” Franca said.
We got out and walked into someone’s home. I expected to meet a relative or a friend. “Sit down in that chair please,” Franca, said to me. “I’ll be right back.”
She disappeared through the curtains of a doorway, soon reappearing with a man carrying boxes of tennis shoes.
“Now please take those boots off.”
I was flustered. “What?” I asked.
“Please take those boots off. I want you to try on these tennis shoes.”
“Me, take off these boots? No ma’am, I’m not going to do that.”
“I want to buy these shoes for you,” she insisted.
“No ma’am, I don’t take charity.”
“I want to buy them for you as a present,” Franca insisted. Presents I could handle, I began pulling off the boots. My sock was an embarrassment. It was bloody and smelled not that nice. She insisted that I put on new socks before trying on the shoes. With much professionalism, the clerk measured my feet, selected a pair of white tennis shoes, and slipped them on.
“Stand up and walk around,” said Franca. Numbly I followed her instructions.
“Walk over here. Walk over there. Turn around. Are they comfortable?” Comfortable was not an apt description. My feet had left my body and ascended into heaven.
March 26, 1982
Today my engraving took a large step forward. I received many encouraging words from some of the other engravers. I am in fine and good spirits. Thank you for loving me.