I should have known better. I really should. I’ve been this way for 54 years and I should have known better: I am not a joiner. I don’t like clubs, committees, coffee clatches, or consciousness-raising groups. So why, o why, did I say yes when I was asked to join a group of women who were starting a do-gooder “peer” group here on Long Island? Why? Especially since they meet on Thursday night and that’s the night I watch Survivor with Top Cat (are we bad people because we like Russel the Villain?).
So I met with the ladies, a group of six or seven (not counting me) of 2 retired teachers, 2 social workers (one is still an psychotherapist in private practice) , a lawyer, and an HR professional, and I listened to them talk for an hour and 45 minutes about how they kinda wanted to do something “empowering” for women, either locally or not, either through fund raising or not, but they were sure (after much, too much discussion) that whatever they got off their asses and did it had to be about “social entrepreneurism” (whatever that is, nobody could say) which may or may not be “therapy based” but it had to be done with “loving kindness”.
Now, you might think this was their first get-together and they were still hashing out an agenda, or a focus, or a point to their group; but no, it was the fourth time they had gotten together and they still hadn’t figured out what they were doing. But I floated the idea that we might want to connect with a woman’s veteran association on Long Island to help with Iran/Afghanistan female vets and nobody said no, so I said that I’d bring them some info about that to the next meeting.
I left that meeting with a stomach ache, and then I had a headache for two days. Because I spent the next morning researching the lack of support systems for returning Iraq-Afghanistan female armed services veterans in our county, and I contacted a wonderful organization in Manhattan and had a conversation with their Outreach Director about how a group of “active” and “caring” Long Island retired professionals could help setting up their program in Nassau County. The Outreach Director was very eager to meet with us to discuss how we could be of service, so then I emailed all the ladies and asked if we wanted to invite the Outreach Director to join us for our next meeting to get an idea of how the goals and needs of their organization might mesh with the group’s desire and willingness to find some worthy cause.
Of course, nobody in the group wanted do this; they want to talk some more, at the next meeting, about what they kinda want to do. It seems that all we had decided to do at that last meeting was to meet again to talk some more amongst ourselves. And with me actually forging ahead and bringing in some concrete ideas, I was also told that I was not respecting the group dynamic.
I should have known better. I should have known the first time I heard someone in the group say the word “empowerment” that this was not going to work out (and that talk about “loving kindness” should have set my head on fire); I should have known when someone (the lawyer) brought up the idea that our group of do-gooders could put on some kind of theatrical event — of course, the Vagina Monologues were discussed — I should have known that I was not their kind of gal. When the suspicion that this was all going to be a huge waste of my time started to make my stomach ache, I should have cut my loses and bid them good riddance and driven straight home in time to see who got voted off of Survivor.
I simply should have listened to my gut. But better late then never; I wrote the ladies a scathing letter about their “group dynamic” and all of a sudden, my two-day headache went away! I didn’t email the letter of course — it’s sitting in my Draft file, poised for launch – but just getting them out of my system made me feel ten years younger, and happy, and free. Talk about empowerment! I promise myself that, if there ever is a next time, I will know better.
Now, on to the art:
Do you now why March is the most fun month to paint ? Even though, really, we all know it’s a deadly dismal month when all we want to do for the next 31 days is stay in bed and have servants bring us grilled cheese sandwiches on pumpernickle bread three times a day while we watch Bravo TV reruns and buy every Trifari crown pin from eBay?
It’s because when I paint March, I get to use one of my most fun tools. I get to use my toothbrush.
March snow is cruddy. And the way to capture that crud is to first paint your scene with pure, white (blue in the shadows) snow. Then you rip up scrap paper and cover the parts of your painting that is not snow. (You don’t have to tape the covering down. Just leave the snowy bits uncovered.)
Then you get out your toothbrush. Me, I use a special-purpose painting toothbrush, but if you want to use your daily dental hygiene toothbrush I will not judge you. Although I wouldn’t recommend it. And of course I’m lying: I will totally judge you to be a moron if you use your daily dental hygiene toothbrush! Ewwwww!
Dip your toothbrush in a watery solution of dirt-brown paint. Then, using your thumb, flick the bristles of the toothbrush so that it sprays little droplets of crud-colored paint onto your snow.
You might want to practice the technique befroe you aim your toothbrush at your painting — there’s no way to fix a picture that’s been badly splattered with toothbrush flotsam. And that’s what makes it so fun! Because no matter how many times you practice, there is still an enormous element of chance with this technique, so you never know if you’re making your painting look gorgeously smack-dabbingly authentically March-like or if you’re ruining it!
I didn’t have a good dream this weekend (just the usual recurring one about me walking in my old junior high school trying to find my way out but, in my dream, it’s become maze-like and is flooded with a foot of water). I want to wait for one of my flyingdreams, or maybe I’ll just wait for a strong case of deja-vu) — and I hope some more of you will email me your dream pictures for our Gallery.
So, until Friday, I will leave you with the news that it got up to 58 degrees here on Long Island(!!) and I am so tired of looking at the snow in the backyard that I went out this morning and moved the last big pile of it into the sunshine. Meaning, I shoveled snow from the shady side of the yard into the sunny side, and as of 5:30 PM on Sunday night, most of it was gone.
Of course, all the backyard cats were out there, sun bathing and watching me shovel snow (not one of them lifted a paw to help) so that’s how I got these pictures of Butter squeezing in and out of the Rabbit Hole (the hole that Top Cat knocked out of the side of the house so that all the backyard cats have access to our basement, and all their downy cozy kitty beds and their three-squares a day).