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!

Self Interview: A Portrait in Words

I thought long and hard over the questions I would answer as an introduction to myself.  It’s like creating a self portrait, but in words.  I had to edit down some of my answers because I can tend to go on and on and…  lose track of time, and purpose, and energy to the point where I soon find myself asleep with my face pressed into the paper of the blank journal I keep at my bedside.  I want to write with a purpose.  I want to make not just a good first impression, but an enduring one that shows a true reflection of my personality. I want to make friends.  I like to talk about myself and share the stories I have to tell that I think are really awesome.  I think you will like me and what I have to say.  I have a lot to share!  So, without further delay, let me ask what I anticipate you might ask me if we were sitting across from each other sipping some hot tea and nibbling some cookies on a November midnight.

What is an average day like for me?

Quiet. I spend most of my time alone. I get up and do the usual things people do, except I turn on the radio instead of the television. I listen to WPR to catch the news, later to listen to classical music. I got into the habit of listening to the radio while working retail. Soon radio became a type of security blanket for me at home. I like having it play in the background while I’m doing dishes or drawing. I have no fixed schedule to keep to, so my days are pretty open and I devote my time to volunteer work, helping out friends, playing with my cat, making art, writing, and living well. I take a walk everyday through the woods, but on days when the weather is too wet or cold, I’m more than happy to stay in and read a book.

What do I do for a living?

I am unemployed but that doesn’t mean I don’t work. Nor do I struggle too much financially, as long as I keep to a simple budget. I am disabled due to several health conditions that are quite manageable but make it difficult for me to keep a steady job. I don’t like using the word “disabled” to describe myself because I don’t consider myself crippled in any way, but let’s just say my mind works differently and I’m more sensitive than the average person. What I do to augment my income is I sell my artwork and occasionally receive donations. I would love to eventually become more self sufficient making money at what I love doing. For now, my situation is the best for me because my medical expenses cost more than I can pay even if I was gainfully employed.

What do I dream of doing for a living?

My dreams become goals. When I dream of something I want to do, the desire to do it hurts so much, I can’t keep still, I have to make it happen or I stay miserable. The more miserable I am, the more unhealthy I get. So my goal is to get healthy enough to eventually be with other people, record their stories, and draw/paint their portraits, just shine a light on them! I just got done with a project in association with the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa where we sought to preserve and revitalize the Ojibwe language by publishing the first comic book to be printed completely in that language. Ojibwe and other tribal language books have been used for children and adults to study from, but never has one been produced completely in the native language without any English translation. We made it that way to entice people to learn the language first so they can figure out the story. I want to do more projects like this, but much of the work doesn’t bring me a lot of profit. I don’t mind it because I really get paid with the satisfaction of knowing I am helping Native American kids who were like me, the ones who grew up separated from their culture and without the stories, language, and spiritual practices of their people. I also want to prevent that happening to people from other cultures, but my talents lie within the arts. I may not be able to save the world by making pretty pictures, yet maybe I can inspire a nation.

What kind of friend am I?

I am very loyal, to a fault. I have my shortcomings and sometimes say the wrong thing, but ultimately I don’t do a lot of rejecting. I’m a loner, often not that outgoing, so when I’m at a bar or a party, I seek out a person who seems to be too quiet and get them to talk. Or I just talk to them til they are forced to talk to me! I am sympathetic to outsiders and wallflowers because I’m like that, too. However, I can go against my nature and pretend to be very extroverted, usually by talking very loudly, telling an obnoxious story, or doing something ridiculous in order to be the center of attention. I like to entertain, yet when I do that I’m not really being myself. My friendship is best enjoyed when things are intimate, when I can really sit down and talk face-to-face with my friends. I like looking into their faces and reading their body language. I pick up on subtle and secret things about other people. I don’t mean to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but sometimes telling them what I’m feeling gets me into some trouble… or it cements our friendship forever.  I’m a very sensitive person, too, so I react emotionally and feel the need to comfort my pals, yet because I’m sensitive, I don’t provide a lot of physical affection.  My way to comfort is to talk.  So, let’s talk a lot!

What is my ethnic background?

I’m a little cauldron mixture of things…  I am one full quarter Menominee Indian, a little less than a quarter L’Anse Chippewa, but I’m one complete Anishinaabe Woman! My great (4x) grandfather was Charles Michel de Langlade who, even though often depicted as a white man, was part Odawa and had many native wives before marrying a white one (some he remained married to while married to her!). He was given the title “Father of Wisconsin” but really he was a rebel against the British and Americans, preferring the company of Indians and loyal to the French. So I have that little salt sprinkling of French on the Indian side of my family! But since the marriages between white men and native women weren’t always recognized, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries, you won’t find the names of my great grandmother or Landglade’s granddaughters in the history books. Someday I want to change that.

As for my mother’s side, I’ve inherited a German-Austrian heritage. My grandfather immigrated to the U.S. in the early 20th century. I was told that my German great grandparents came to this country to keep my grandfather from being drafted into the German army. If I remember the story correctly, the first born sons were usually sent into the military, but with WWII coming up and all those nasty politics Hitler was spewing, the Belt family made the right decision.

I inherited from both sides of my family a deeply spiritual lifestyle. My mother and grandmothers were all very devout, be they medicine women or Catholic, religion influenced the people in my family.

Why am I single?

I haven’t dated in many, many, MANY years simply because no one’s been awesome or honorable enough to be my boyfriend. Those who have, however, did so in ways that made them undesirable! Last time a man chased me, he was overly forward and demanding, not nice at all. He thought harassing me into going out with him was the way to go. No, thank you. Other than that, I don’t get out much. Dating intimidates me. It’s like stage fright.  I panic.  I especially hate blind dates. I tried dating online, and even went to meet someone a couple years ago, but he wasn’t very nice and left me with the bill. I try not to think about it anymore. I think about other things that are more pleasant in my life. I no longer feel desperate to find a mate. I’m older now, too. Most people who are my age are too busy in a profession, are married anyway, have children, or come with a poor attitude about their life. Dating today is not like it used to be when I was in college. It’s too casual, too ambiguous, too much focus on sex and instant gratification. If someone really wants me, they have to really woo me now to get my attention. I think I deserve that. I’m a woman, not a toy.

Why do you like being single?

Because there’s no one telling me what to do! That’s what I hated about being in a relationship when I was young. Men dominating my life and me not knowing I had the power to tell them to back off. Even though my ex-boyfriends loved me, they felt this obnoxious need to take care of me and do too much for me, especially without consulting me. I almost married someone who wanted me to fulfill a very traditional housewife role for him. He came from Italian roots where the women cooked and didn’t have to work and made the babies. When he told me how many children I was going to have for him, that was my cue to leave! It was difficult because I loved him, yet I squirmed under his control. I can’t imagine living that kind of lifestyle.

I genuinely like living alone because the only person I have to answer to is me. If something is dirty or if I put something off, it’s my fault and no one’s going to be there to gripe at me for it. I have plenty of space and quiet. No interruptions. More freedom. No pressure to please someone else or keep to a busy social schedule. I can decorate the way I see fit. All my clothes and furniture smells like “me” and I can burn incense and perform ritual whenever I please without a big production or protest from someone else who wants to get involved or who’d rather not. Everything is simple, easy to maintain, and, sure, it’d be nice to include another person, but it would be a stressful adjustment for me to make now.

What don’t you like about being single?

The way some people think something is wrong with you if you have no partner or children. Like you’re missing out on life if you stay alone. I didn’t realize how controversal keeping to a single life can be. By the time a woman reaches 40 and she’s not with anyone, not even a sex buddy, they wonder if you’re wounded, lost, or just really very sad. They never care to think that living alone can be very liberating and wonderful. Usually I don’t care what people think, but I want to, for the record, say that my life is not a tragic one where I pine away day and night longing for a lover or a baby. My “dream lover” isn’t typical either. I’d rather date a person who likes their aloneness, too, and instead of having babies, I’d rather make books together. Oh, and we wouldn’t have to live together either. Now a lot of people would find that all kinds of strange, yet I’m not normal, I guess! There aren’t a lot of men who fit that bill, too. Most want a woman they can have children with, or some kind of family future, yet that’s just not me.  Men just don’t get interested in me in that way. Like the guy who walked out on me on that first date. Once he learned I’m not looking for marriage and family, it was a deal breaker for him.  No matter how pretty I am, or how nice, he considered me a useless woman.

The only other thing I don’t like about being single is that sometimes I discover something so wonderful or fantastic, but there’s no one around to immediately report it to! I have my cat, Mr. Snuggles, to talk to, but he doesn’t speak human. Sure, I can get on Facebook or blog about it, yet there’s nothing like that instant gratification of seeing the look and understanding on a friend’s face when they are standing there right beside you! I miss that.

What do I dream of doing that I haven’t yet tried?

Travel without a group and just explore a place completely on my own without a schedule, or even a map, and just rely on my own wits and soak in the atmosphere at my own pace without having to accommodate my fellow travelers.  Every time I go on a trip with other people, I get irritated and feel like I’m being pushed this way and that against my will.  Just as I get used to a place, someone interrupts my concentration and the break in focus sends me into a panic.  Crowds and strangers often overstimulate my senses, making me dizzy.  I have to take things in slowly.

In September 2010, friends invited me out to South Dakota for a few days, but our time was very limited, especially when we got to visit Deadwood.  A friend got sick and our trip was cut short.  I felt like I had just met my new true love and had to say good-bye in the same heartbeat. I think if I had been there completely on my own, with plenty of time to really take in the sights, say weeks ( ! ) maybe I’d have a perfect time of it. I was never a big country western fan or an Old West history buff, but I loved HBO’s Deadwood. Even though the city looks nothing much like how it was portrayed in the TV series, it’s still a small town with everything within walking distance.  And what an endurance course it is to walk around there!  The hills are very steep, you really have to pump your knees and thighs, but that clean air!  As you take in gulps of air while you get a work out walking up and down those hills, you breathe in amazingly fresh air.

I would love to do an artist’s residency or retreat there! Why? The place is full of ghosts! The hills are saturated with the sounds of a different era intermixed with modern day people, making for a very fascinating dynamic. Look in the faces of the residents there and you can recognize in them their Old West ancestry. The people could just as easily look right at home in 19th century duds as they do in 21st century clothes. I want to go there to record ghost stories, draw portraits of the people who live there, commune with the spirits who happily dwell there, maybe participate in some paranormal investigations, and get to know people there really well so they’ll let me see the hidden places the tourists aren’t allowed to explore.

When I was there for the first time, I was surprised at how “at home” I felt there. I had no panic, no discomfort, no sense of having to constantly look over my shoulder, and I didn’t have any problems with climbing those hills. Of course I visited during a time when it was just about the off season and the last of the tourists were milling through the thoroughfare before summer’s end, but I had the sense that this historic town has a lot more for me to discover. While I was there, I kept dragging behind the tour group, totally in a daze, paying more attention to the voices of spirits all around me who seemed so very pleased to speak to me that I was lost to the living! Armed with a digital camera, my batteries kept giving out even though I had just replaced them. I didn’t manage to capture any ghosts on camera, but I talked to them with my thoughts and promised I would return. I actually felt really “loved” there, too. It made me wonder if I had spent a past life there.

Who do I want to meet?

This will sound crazy, but I want to meet more spirits… and experience the Gods of different cultures. Less crazy, I just want to go out and meet my friends all over again, too! Especially ones who have passed away and are no longer in this world. I know, sad, right? But it’s true. When I’m away from my friends, no matter what separates us, I always think of all the things we didn’t get to do together, then I make the decision that next time it’ll be done. But once we meet up again, something always comes up that is better to do! So everything eventually works out. I don’t really want to meet anyone famous or rich. I like my company sweet and personal.

How am I feeling right now?

Hungry. I fasted today in an effort to detox. I’ve come down with an annoying cold that is stealing away my voice. Even though it’s late, I am about to indulge in a sandwich and watch a movie to distract myself from feeling hopeless. Besides hunger and being sick, I am a little sad. I am missing one of my best friends. I’m anxious to get over my cold quickly and wish I could fly or teleport so I could just pop on over to where he’s at and steal a hug from him. But what keeps me from feeling completely sad is a happiness inside that gives me the gut feeling that I will see him again soon, perhaps more than once! That’s my intuition, not wishful thinking. I checked. Spirit’s never lied to me before. So I need to stop worrying I’m going to miss out on catching my friend before he leaves. Other than that, I am tired, yet restless. The cold slowed me down and I think about all the things I wanted to do today that I had to put off for later this week. Oh, well…

What am I looking forward to?

Getting over my cold! I hate being sick, and yet I look forward to spending a few days in bed. I’m going to catch up on some drawing. I have too many blank spaces in my sketchbook that need filling. I am also working on a film noir kind of character for a comic art contest. Though I just have the bare bones of the model drawn now and need to flesh out what kind of person she is and in what world she belongs to and what kind of adventure she’s having… *quick intake of breath!* I’m letting her pose speak to me. I’m starting to get all kinds of ideas. I love that. I think I have great chances of winning the contest, but even if I don’t win, it’s going to be a lovely way to meet other artists.

Next:  Self Interview pt. 2: My Life with the Gods

Hello, Samhain!

I have just created a new blog and am getting used to the new format of it, working out the bugs, settling in, figuring out everything, making it work.  It is a strange fit, this.  I wiggle in like I would a new pair of shoes, stretching my toes, taking a few steps here and there, still unsure if this is me or not.

I have five minutes to midnight.  Five minutes before a new month.  It is the last five minutes of Samhain.

I feel like I’ve been a bad Witch this Samhain.  I have not done my usual ceremonies and magick.   Instead I’ve been working on other transformations…

I’m going to quickly finish writing this and save the details for the next day.  I have a lot to introduce to you about me!