Let Me Re-Introduce Myself to You by Answering 20 Questions

It’s been a long while since I wrote simply for the joy of, well, writing. I need a fresh start. This is a way to relieve the tension and get back to my natural self. Nice to meet you all over again.

Wild Wind-Blown Self Portrait Near Lake Joanis, photo by Valentina Kaquatosh, 2015

“Wild Wind-Blown Self Portrait at the shore of Lake Joanis”

What did you eat today?

One cup and a half of rice and cream of mushroom soup, washed it down with Vanilla Coke. It’s now late at night, I forgot to have supper, so I have to make up for it by making a quick tuna fish sandwich! I tend to skip meals whenever I get manic creative like I did today. Yes, I’m kicking myself in the fanny over it. But, to be fair, I’ve been on a treatment called Bydureon that has significantly reduced my appetite, so it’s made me extra forgetful when it comes to eating!

What have you done today?

Slept in too late, that also meant I took my medication later than usual (I’m talking about my diabetic meds) so that gave me a combination of a belly and headache, so I spent the first half of my wakefulness in meditation, stretching, easing my body back to a natural state of composure. This is what happens when my chronic fatigue attacks my system, so I compensate. I move slow, have done so for as long as I can remember, but now I accept it instead of beating myself up for it.

Next, I answer to the call of my cats who are ever mindful to help me stay awake by tending to their every need and desire. I not only just feed them, I clean their bowls, make sure their water is fresh, check the litter boxes three times a day (otherwise they will complain, loudly), and the best part is cuddling them. Today my elder cat, Calie, wasn’t feeling well, she’s got a hair-ball problem, so I massaged her belly and throat, prepared softer food for her, and made double sure the water and food bowls are free of dust.

The biggest chunk of the day I spent at my COLOURlovers profile site where my digital coloring obsession helps me relax and forget about the troubles of the outside world. It’s a part of my daily routine. Whenever I get stressed out, I’m there almost too much!

Tonight I am house cleaning, taking out trash, clearing clutter, and preparing for a late night visit with a good friend. She and I planned to collaborate on art projects while I put in a load of laundry. Unfortunately, didn’t work out, so we had to re-schedule, which is just as well considering I still have more cleaning to do before I can really make my place presentable. Ugh!

Name a few friends and what their talents are:

Saumya: Multi-talented, so I will name the one talent she has that’s my favorite (actually, I don’t have one favorite, so I’m just picking the one at the moment) — her ability to create intricate drawings where there’s images seemingly within images, like paisley maps that lead to “mind’s eye” hidden things but each time I take a look, I see something different within each drawing.

Michelle: Watching her drawings and paintings develop is like seeing flowers open fast forward, and they don’t wilt.

Nicole: She’s a true visionary, someone I can really relate to and can communicate with on a psychic level, but even when we can’t seem to connect in the “real” world, she has this earthy, motherly quality that soothes everything out. I can truly call her a “soothe-sayer” because as both an artist and healer, she can apply both at once in her efforts to bring someone a calming truth.

Trent: He drums like he was born out of a different era, yet also can drum in any style of music, or genre. What he is best at is rockabilly and jazz. His specialty is really keeping that nice, flowing beat… I can’t describe it as well as you can hear it. You have to hear him live.

What is your star sign?

Capricorn with Leo rising!

Can you play an instrument?

No. But I can sing. I took vocal training as a child and performed in semi-professional church choirs while growing up. I hated the travel, the church retreats, and constant auditions for solo and duet ensembles I didn’t get to be a part of! Yet when I did get to be, I did it like a Diva. Now I only sing on stage for karaoke contests, or just to surprise friends. I perform Stevie Nicks songs the best, my favorites songs to do are Enchanted, Talk to Me, Stand Back, and Edge of Seventeen, just to name a few, yeah, I could make a HUGE list. However, people who really know me often request I sing Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.

What has been your work experience mainly been in?

Retail hell.

Considering we’re only a few days away from Black Friday, I am VERY glad to not be experiencing that anymore!

Have you ever been to uni or done any courses?

I spent what seemed like decades in college obsessed with achieving my BFA in Studio Art, emphasis on Drawing and Painting, with a minor in Writing. Originally what kept me in classes so long was I double majored in English and Fine Arts! I soon realized I had to cut down those classes and focus on Art since that was where my talents truly were the best. I didn’t graduate and went on to just achieving a degree in Life Experience!

In fact, it really does feel like I spent my entire life in universities. My mother worked at Cardinal Stritch University during my grade school years, so after school I was “enrolled” in a life drawing class while Mom was at work. Instead of going home alone, it was great to take a bus to the university and engage in creative pastimes like that, really had a major influence on me. Later my Mom went to Central Bible College where religious studies also had a major impact on my life, but not in the way my mother would have hoped! By the time I was of age to get into college myself, university life was already a part of who I was and it’s my “church” in a very real sense.

I miss being in classes. I still feel a deep loss not attending. I have constant dreams where I think I’m late or didn’t show up for a class, and I’m missing out on it “all”, or I need to catch up. I also still feel like I am in my 20’s!

Are you in a band or do anything creative?

Hell’s belles, wish I could of been in a band, gods know I practiced like I was in one when I was a teen! But, no, that didn’t happen.

As for creative… I got that going on up to my eyeballs and beyond! Art’s my bag.

What is your favorite planet?

Planet? Planet sch-man-et! THE MOON!

Last film you watched?

The Shadow of the Vampire — I love my vampire movies. I’m also a HUGE fan of actors Eddie Izzard, John Malkovich, and you can’t beat the amazing Willem Dafoe as the classic Nosferatu!

What have you discovered about people?

Anyone I know, and love, can pass away, or leave, at any time, without warning. So make every moment count. Make sure everyone knows they are loved. Even when they refuse to believe you are their friend, or that you love them, still extend to them love. Just as often as people change their minds, they can change their hearts as well. Forgiveness is liberating, perhaps even necessary for survival.

What clothes are you wearing?

A turquoise and forest green batik sarong I sewn into a poncho, pair of black trousers, no socks, no bra, feeling like an all natural woman.

Are you a jeans and t-shirt girl or dresses and skirts girl?

Bah! I weep if I have to wear jeans. I love to wear dresses as long as they are semi-formal and exotic. And skirts, yes, skirts! I rather wear flowing things than tight, hugging my legs and thighs things.

Don’t even try to make me wear shorts in public. I think shorts are the ugliest things women wear. Get yourself into a skirt or pants, a romper even, but not shorts. And jumpers? Puh-leeeese!

However, you will only see me wear shorts to bed. When you’re a woman going through menopause, shorts are the best thing to wear at night. Never thought I’d EVER wear turn to wearing them for anything until I got the sweats.

Denim or leather?

LEATHER.

But I feel like I should be more kind and point out I don’t condone harm towards animals, even though I do have a leather couch that I know wasn’t made from the hides of cows who committed suicide. I also own a coyote fur coat, a gift from a friend and my father. I honor the animals and thank them for their contribution to my well-being as much as possible. We all nourish other living beings in this life and death and re-birth cycle. Someday my body will return to the earth, and perhaps will contribute to another’s life in this cycle as well, gods’ willing. I don’t know yet. Or I may disintegrate in an instant. Should I even think too long about this?

Why do I feel guilty over my humanity whenever I think about how leather is made?

Oh, I look back at my couch and suddenly start to imagine the moo-ing moans and death cries of the cattle when they lined up for slaughter… ouch. Stop it, Val.

What was the last song you listened to?

This is sad for me to say, but I don’t remember! This means I need to listen to more music again. I get into a silent mode. Last night I was content to listen to the geese outside, and then became very concerned when I heard a blue jay cry out in alarm just after dusk. I get to be a watch dog for my neighborhood woodland, the flora and fauna mean a lot to me, so I worry sometimes when I hear something strange like that.

Lately I am watching more movies, so the last songs I heard were instrumental soundtracks. However, to be specific, last time I heard an actual song was from Pink Flamingos!

The Trashmen : Surfin’ Bird ( 1963 )

Probably one of the most annoying songs ever created, but the “Papa, ooma mow mow” lyrics are perfect for the “singing asshole” scene during DIVINE‘s birthday party.

How many pokes have you got on Facebook?

You know, I’m slow to social media, always have been. Never understood how “pokes” work. So whenever someone pokes me, I don’t poke back, and I never poke anyone! It also took me FOREVER to get the hang of Twitter as well. I even wrote about how much it frightened me.

What things frustrate you?

People and money.

What political party do you support?

Liberal. I lean to the left. No particular party.

What is more important money or love?

Love. Because when you got love, the money follows, it really does. You might be able to “buy” someone’s loyalty, but when push comes to shove, people who love you will stick by you when you’re broke and sick. I know this because whenever I am broke and sick, I’m not that way for long, and my friends aren’t that way for long, too, so supporting each other with or without money, you can’t buy that. Love glues us all together.

You get invited to see your favorite rock star, what do you say?

Ha! I’m either speechless or over talkative at first, but the conversation will be mundane, which may be refreshing to the star. I don’t want to gush all over them because I think it’s just stupid and everything they’ve all heard before over and over again. I also know they are jet-lagged, or weary after a performance, so what I have to say will depend upon the circumstance of the chance meeting. I will dance according to the music played. But chances are, I’m awed speechless, or speech-full silly, so I should let them talk, tell me a story I can repeat for bragging rights later for me to tell to my friends. I collect stories of chance meetings like that, not autographs. Maybe I’d take a selfie with them, if they feel up to it, but even that will feel rude.

Fame can turn people into assholes. Being popular and successful is a job. Very stressful. It can get ugly just as much as it can be rewarding. When you’re famous people think they can say whatever they want about you, uncensored, sometimes even to your face, and this means my “heroes” have to wear thick, heavy armor. When I meet them, I know I’m not meeting the “real” person inside, it’s still a part of their performance. I know this because I’ve met and worked with several famous people, seen the life behind the stage, so being careful and kind to a performer goes a long way. I can’t just walk up to some star and think I’ll be their best friend over night. Even if that star was someone I used to know, went to school with, or was a friend of a friend’s friend, I don’t have the right to call on them willy-nilly.

Also, I no longer have any heroes, no one to look up to like I once did. I don’t believe in heroes anymore. There’s just people who are good. Good at what they do and doing good in the world.

We don’t need to put anyone else on a pedestal above us. Appreciate someone who deserves it more, like your mother, or the people who struggle to save refugees. Or just appreciate yourself. Yes. Do that! Great way to end this tonight. See you again soon!

Should Old Acquaintance be Forgot…

Much has changed since last New Year’s Eve.  I’ve been unable to bring myself to write much.  Perhaps because I’ve been more active outside than on the inside these past months since the death of my closest companion.  2013 seemed to be a year of many transformations, actual death being just one of them.  The numerology for the year equals 13, the number of Death in the Tarot (and all kinds of bad luck if you believe in that sort of thing).

Death has crossed my path before, yet this last time was my most intense experience so far because my cat was so emotionally close to me.  He wrapped his body around my face every night.  That kind of intimacy…  the loss of it…  it changes you.  And yet I could not have a home without a cat.  2013 will mark the year I lost and found cats.  On October 11th, I invited a new kitten into my life, Velvet, so full of fierceness, spirit, and glee, it’s impossible to be depressed around her. She keeps me on my toes, yet she doesn’t sleep with me like my boy did.  He was the lover.  She’s the fighter.  Both of them teach me how to champion on.

But Death visited me in other ways as well. I changed the way I behave online, mostly. I had to give up so many ways I used to operate for fear and sorrow at causing others distress and my own, sort of. I gave up on a lot of anger, grew obsessed with everything I said, drew myself up in knots. My body took a toll. I’m still healing myself.  The loss of old relationships still smarts, always will, the heart never forgets.  I re-thought about the way I communicate, realized that much of the way I am is really who I am, and that problems some people have with me is really their problem!  My mistake is apologizing for myself for being myself.  I learned that if you go on doing that too often, it gives people the impression that if I don’t believe in myself, how can I be authentic if I’m unbelievable?  Well…  I am unusual, but I think you know what I mean.  I still blame myself for old friends cutting contact with me, and it took a great deal of trial and error to avoid the temptation to write publicly about it, but I managed to slow down talking about my personal life too much.  No amount of anyone shunning me will ever shame me.

The Sun was my Tarot card for 2013 and it shined through me in the way that I was successful creatively. I completed the playing card project, yet my agent and I are not on speaking terms. Even though I cannot sell my work outside the reservation, I learned a valuable lesson professionally. The sun’s light reveals everything, and it also sent many new friends my way.

To make up for the loss of the old, I experienced renewal with people all around me. I continue to experience a spiritual and psychic resurgence in friends.  My circle is wider, and thicker and I am thankful.  Every year I write down a wish that is more like a goal: an intention.  2013’s intention was to secure true and better friendships. Putting that intention out there and meditating upon it attracted to me all types of new and exciting personalities, including spirit guides.

I have yet to write about it at length, but this year marked a new venture: I have started to incorporate my art with my spirit medium abilities.  It all started with a dream I had on October 2011 of a woman I had not met and felt compelled to draw her portrait, when I later saw her face online and learned she was the friend of a friend, it was such an exciting revelation, I had to expand on the portrait and paint it. When I decided to paint her and the spirits all around her, the more of them appeared to me. So after the portrait, I bought I new sketchbook and decided to keep a visual diary of visions I would have. The practice of this “paranormal portraiture” grew and grew…

I now participate in paranormal investigations where I can sketch what I “see” within my mind’s eye. The results have been exciting, with me often capturing personalities from the previous centuries, leading me (no matter what) to study local history and discover our ancestors, leading also to a renewed respect and awe at how they survived. Mostly I’ve been investigating at The Cottage Cafe in Plover, WI, a historical landmark known as one of the most haunted places, but also a quite most wonderful place to be. I’ve made a lot of friends there!

I am truly grateful for getting through the old year. Thankful for the old friends who have come and gone.

My Tarot card for 2014 is The Chariot:  I am moving forward with a better sense of direction and utilization of  my abilities.  I feel more balanced, ready to get going.  There is so much more for me to do.  Much love from me to you!  I promise to catch up with all the subjects I left unfinished.  There is so much I haven’t yet said.  So many words I’ve only thought.  In one half hour the new year’s here.

Drink one for me as I kiss our past good-bye!

Taking Myself Out

After having days and nights of feeling deathly depressed, I pushed myself out into a nice day, and despite the sunshine, as usual I found myself irritated by pissy people.  Where do they find me?  So once again I am the ever patient and understanding Val, but when I got home I promised myself to cut loose. I had put off seeing EVIL DEAD long enough. I could not talk my brother into seeing it with me. It was a brother-sister tradition of our’s since grade school staying up late to watch EVIL DEAD, and there was no other person in the world I could think of I wanted to watch the reboot version with, but he was Mr. Major Disappointment.  Determined not to let him ruin my evening, I went on a mission to hunt down friends — whomever was available last-minute, sweetening the deal because it was all my treat (snacks included) — yet it was too late and nobody was free.

Then I did what I NEVER DO; I started to just ASK ANYONE who crossed my path if they wanted to come with me to see the movie. Perhaps I was too bold. Perhaps it was the choice of film. Perhaps I seemed very desperate, or my offer too much. Yet it was just as well. EVIL DEAD is the kind of movie I didn’t want to see alone, not because I was anticipating I’d be scared, but because I wanted to share the experience.

It has been years since I last saw a movie with a group of friends. I miss that shared experience.  I’m not asking for a romantic “date”, I’m most pleased with the kind of companionship I once had with the kind of friend(s) who enjoy the same tastes and see the world a little like I do.  I fear I won’t ever have this companionship again and it floods me with tears.  I love my friends for all their diversity all about me, but I’m such a weird lady, I’m afraid not very many of my people are out there. It’s why I’m not writing as often as I used to online.  Out there… they are gone.  Some of the magic drains out of me. I’m missing not just a limb, but several limbs.

I’ve been dis-membered!!!

I’m healthy and strong enough to accept being alone, however, especially when it unexpectedly becomes magical.

After no one took my offer, I put on a smile for the manager and cashier at Campus Cinema, paid my ticket, then looked around, got my popcorn, and was a little creeped out when I noticed that NO ONE BUT ME was in that theater! What kind of Friday night was this? Sure, I live in a small city, yet someone other than me’s gotta be here!  I expected someone to be playing a practical joke on me. During the feature, I kept looking over my shoulder, wondering if someone’d play a William Castle maneuver on me. Alas, not so.

My initial creepy feeling grew into absolute pleasure. To have an entire cinema to myself? After awhile a girl feels like a queen!  I could really stretch out.  I could talk to myself and not disturb anyone.  It felt like I was accompanied by ghosts.  Maybe I was.  Being there not surrounded by a crowd, I it was like I was the only woman left alive in the world, and I could pretend for the duration of the film that I was sucked into the fantasy, that, indeed, at the ending credits I’d really walk out into the end of the world and have to find my own chainsaw (or fashion my own dismemberment device) in order to go back home in one piece!

*happy dance*

To up the creep factor sever-all (get it? sever all, heh) oh, so not right points, it was positively pouring rain outside when I dared step out into the lobby.  No employees were seen.  No cars left in the parking lot.  Yet businesses across the street were open as usual.  Normalcy hit me like the rain as I ran over to the nearest video store to talk to the only other soul behind a counter as I waited for a cab ride home.

It’s not unusual for me to come home to complete darkness.  I live next to the woods after all, my place little more than a cabin paradise of an apartment building anyway, and when I turn off the lights it is so pitch black, it’s soothing, my kind of soothing, like huddling into the hollow of a tree in an uninhabited-by-humans forest.

I had no nightmares.

Postcard #36: Let Be This Crimson Storm

What’s come over me?  What’s going on with me right now?  It is hard to write and draw at the same time.  I get bored before I start writing because I’ve had the same ideas in my mind for some time about what to write and they grow stale by the time I get to the keyboard.  I discover I write about the same sorrows too often.  My joys are the usual as well.  I think too much.  Then I start to censor myself.  I worry about what people I love think about.  I swing between passions.  At this point I exhausted myself into fury.  I don’t want to care about what anyone thinks.  I want that most precious of freedoms that makes me so happy, you can’t imagine.  I want to write about anything and everything I want and about anyone I love.  But…  I must not go over the top.  I have to be respectful, or is that repressfull?  To reflect this, I did a cosmetically drastic thing.

I dyed the left half of my bangs brilliant crimson, dyed a lower right part the same color, and over all, my hair is aflame, with bands of darkest brown in between like rivers of chocolate next to all this burning red strawberry-gold mess.

This is the brightest I’ve ever highlighted my hair. I accidentally spaced out and left the bleach on too long on my left side. For a few moments I worried I had killed my hair. The darkness I’m so used to had disappeared into this stunning gold white. When I poured the color on, the dye was a thick, bloody red and it made me remember when my head was split open at the age of 14.

It was an accident. My younger brother was one of those kid brothers who liked to tag along and be incredibly annoying. There were plenty of boys his age to hang out with, but, no, he had to follow me and my girlfriends around as if it were his life’s goal to tease us to death. I tried to perfect the art of gracefully ignoring him, yet this only egged him on. One late summer night while my mother and the rest of the adults in the neighborhood were indoors debating Biblical scripture (we lived in an evangelical Christian community where Bible Studies were like social get togethers during the weekends), my best friend and I, like the rest of the kids, were left with nothing to do but hang out at the playground. We were too big for the jungle gym, so we sat on the swings, swaying casually back and forth while we talked about boys. To avoid my tag along brother, we told him we would be somewhere else, but he soon found out the truth and came at us in full antagonizing fury. First he called us names, chanting stupid rhymes, but then he started to throw little stones and things at us. Still, we ignored him.

He never intended to hurt us, he only wanted attention, and he was going to get it, even if it meant he was going to scare us. But my brother was never good at frightening me, just an expert at stepping on my nerves. To ignore him even harder, my friend and I started to swing as high as we could get, singing and laughing as loud as we could. I suppose we were just as annoying to my brother as he was to us. I don’t remember seeing him pick it up, but out of nowhere something big hit me upside my head and, just like in the cartoons, I saw stars…

Then I flew and fell and thudded to the ground. Somehow getting back on my feet, yet unable to steady myself, I couldn’t say anything or feel anything, my ears popped and I laughed. I always laugh whenever I’m uncomfortable, very angry, or whenever I’m in a situation where I don’t know how to react. The first thing I heard was my brother screaming, “I DIDN’T MEAN TO KILL MY SISTER! I’M SO SORRY! GOD PLEASE FORGIVE ME! DON’T LET MY SISTER DIE! SOMEBODY HELP MY SISTER!” Then out of him came the worst, most pitiful cries of animalistic fear and pain. Poor boy! My friend helped me stay on my feet and we were both laughing as my brother ran away back home. I thought his screams were for nothing. I was fine. I felt no pain.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” My friend asked, but I laughed off her concern. We began to walk back to make sure to let everyone know my brother’s panic was over nothing. Yet I did not see what had hit me. A few steps away from home, we stepped into the street light, and my friend gasped in horror. She wouldn’t speak, she just squeaked, covering her mouth, shaking her head, looked away and threw up. Alarmed, I had the sick realization that the back of my head felt very… wet. One side of my head was covered in blood. No. It was streaming blood. I felt for the wound, couldn’t find it, and it was hard to distinguish what part was my hair or scalp or could that sticky, squishy part be a piece of my brain?

I did not want to go home. Even though I felt no pain, I just did not want to be seen that way. How silly a thought was that! But sympathy for my brother drove me to open that screen door and slowly step inside as if I had done something gravely wrong. Everyone panicked except for my friend’s African father. He had experience treating much more horrible wounds in his home country, so in the minutes before anyone could get me to the ER, he managed to stop my bleeding. “She’ll be fine,” he assured everyone. Meanwhile my poor brother would not look at me, he clung to my mother, still quietly apologizing for what he did, but he didn’t have to.

I did end up fine, well, okay. I had a concussion, I still can feel the scar whenever I brush my hair, and my brother got over it, in fact as an adult he now teasingly claims I beat him up (yeah, right) when we were children. When he showed me the wooden board with the big rusty nail that had snagged a valley into my scalp deep enough to cause that blood river, I was thankful more damage had not been done. Whenever my brother and I recall what happened that night, we laugh about it now. We have a history of causing each other accidental bodily harm and saving each other from dangerous, near fatal situations that go as far back as early childhood. I don’t know who saved who first! I can even brag that I saved my baby brother from getting kidnapped by a serial killer, and it’s no lie, we even got to identify the creep, but we were too young to get ourselves on the news. *shivers* That was scary.

Getting back to my crimson hair…

That color… I chose it, picked that left side to color, and colored down that lower right side as part of a grand design to express my what — wildness?  But after I rinsed and dried, I took a good, long, hard look at what I done… I noticed that it seemed symbolic of being struck through the head, yet my head is still held together. Like I’ve had a breakthrough instead of a breakdown. The name of the hair dye is “Crimson Storm” and it could describe what goes on inside me when I’m filled with ideas, passions, inspiration, dreams, just me  overflowing with too much STUFF where I BURST at the seams.

So instead of complaining about how this makes me feel like that and being sad over this and blah, blah, blah, blahck… sheep, I gotta let burst and let myself be and just live. Let this crimson storm loose, get back to writing, let myself fly, and just go where my passions take me instead of holding back and waiting for permission (from who? I dunno!) to be whatever I wanna do.