The blind leading the seeing

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, April 1, 2014 12:37 AM

This morning we happened upon a blind gentleman. He was tall, lanky, with a mane of curly dark hair, and an equally dark, straggly beard, and dark aviator sunglasses. He was dirty; we assumed he was homeless. He was walking along the sidewalk, south on Campbell as we were walking north, returning with Cooper, ready to turn to make our way back to the house. He had a white cane, the traditional tool used by the blind. White with a red base, the loop of the handle around his wrist. Because we had the dog, we decided it was best to move off of the sidewalk down into the parking lot. He seemed to be doing well, walking steadily and with purpose.

Just as we passed, he called out and Kevin went to speak with him. I stayed with Cooper. Eventually Kevin helped him walk through the parking lot, the man’s arm hooked through Kevin’s as Kevin led the way, to take a seat on one of the cement flower boxes. When Kevin rejoined Cooper and I, he said the guy was from Montana. In the span of their five minutes or so together, Kevin learned about the size of the state, the climate, the people. He said he was going to the house to get some money to help. The man was on his way to Albertson’s, another half mile or so down Campbell.

Kevin grabbed $36 – we don’t tend to keep much cash in the house – and several bottles of water and headed back to the parking lot.

As I write this, Kevin has been gone for twenty minutes or so. His wallet and his cell phone are on the kitchen counter. I suspect he helped the man to Albertson’s though I don’t know.

My office window faces the street. My desk faces the wall. I pivot in my chair regularly to look out in search of my husband, wondering where he is and what he has learned.

This urban area we live in has a number of characters, people we see on a regular basis, coming to and fro the bus. One man is always dressed in brown uniform pants, the type you might see on a UPS driver in the winter. He is wrapped in a sweatshirt even on the hottest days. He wears a ratted baseball hat, thick glasses and a surgical mask. A lady with three tiny matted dogs. A group of disabled adults who walk around the parking lot and always want to say hi to Cooper. Such a pretty dog. Can we pet him?

Kevin has returned. He took the man, whose name is John, across the street to a gas station and then made sure he knew how to get to his destination. John walked here from Montana. It took him 20 days and 18 hours. He’s been in 47 states. Along the way he was stopped a number of times by State Police who wanted to know if he was Forrest Gump. He spent time in Vegas but doesn’t like it. He won $25,000 once in a joke telling contest. To win, contestants had to tell jokes for as long as they could. He lasted for seven hours and five minutes. He recently spent time in the hospital because several guys jumped him, beat him up. His front teeth are cracked. There is a rod in his left hand. He showed Kevin.

At first Kevin wondered if maybe he was being scammed. It’s quite a commentary on our culture that we often go to cynical before we embrace truth. But John was the real thing. He knew when the light changed before Kevin did because of the sound of the cars. He stumbled on several curbs when Kevin didn’t tell him what was ahead. Kevin said “I’m sorry; I suck at this.” John said that he hadn’t had much practice. “It’s kind of like the blind leading the seeing.”

They parted ways at the Chevron station. Kevin gave him the money we had. John folded the $20 a certain way, and the $10 another way. The 1s he put in a separate pocket.

He’s on his way, to where we don’t know. Maybe he’ll head to California and the beach. Maybe he’ll go east to New Mexico.

Is it a good omen to start a Monday morning helping a blind man to “see?” Perhaps. I like to believe that we all have the capacity to be better to one another, to see that making our lives better starts with helping others. Perhaps I’m naïve but I think it may be the key to living it out loud.

Tags: , ,

live out loud

Joy in the walk

by Lorin Michel Saturday, March 29, 2014 10:23 PM

This morning, Cooper and I went for a long walk, just the two of us. It’s usually all three of us. In fact, since we got Cooper nearly a year and a half ago, we all go out twice a day. But Kevin was working on the car and there was absolutely no reason that the furry one and I couldn’t go off on our own for a bit. It was a gorgeous day, already 72º when we left and headed north along Campbell toward Allen where we stopped and waited for the light so that we could cross and get into an area where there is no traffic, in fact no cars at all, and just meander. Meander we did, him wandering in and out and around the brush, the trees, the well-placed rocks. I simply held the leash loosely. The walk is his time.

It’s also mine. Walking the dog alone allows me to think or not think at all, and I have been known to do both. Maybe it’s being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. I don’t know. But the fact that I don’t have anyone to talk to means I can truly just relax and let my mind wander to wherever it decides to go. There are no restrictions. I might find myself in a childhood memory or on a sailboat off the coast of Maui. I might think about the day ahead or last night’s dinner. My brain may attempt to work out a creative problem with a story I’ve been writing or plan to start. Rarely do I think about work. I think my sub conscious takes over and I simply drift.

Which is not to say that I stop paying attention. I am vigilant when it comes to watching for other dogs or animals. Cooper, as I’ve mentioned, is a nervous dog. We’re not sure why though we’re fairly sure it has something to do with his life before us. He is terrified of other dogs, so we keep him away from them because he shows his terror by working himself up and attacking. I know this sounds counter intuitive but we have been assured by many dog trainers and behavior specialists that it’s actually quite common to react to terror with aggression. It’s impossible to avoid other dogs entirely and we don’t try to. We simply pull up on his leash so he is walking right next to us. The idea is to assure him that as pack leaders, we will take care of any and every situation and he doesn’t need to worry.

This morning, as Cooper and I walked down Allen toward a farm, there was an older couple walking toward us. They were on the other side. They had two dogs. I pulled up on the leash but we just kept walking. Cooper glanced at them as they passed but didn’t get upset or worried. He just went back to sniffing and peeing and being a dog. I nodded to the people, wished them a good morning.

Maguire and I used to walk alone nearly every day, until he got older. It became my job early on in our relationship to trot the pup as we called it. I’d ask him if he wanted to go for a walk and he’d turn cartwheels on his way to the door where he’d wait for me to put his harness on, raising his left front paw so I could slip the harness over it and then buckle it. Off we’d go. I came up with a lot of good ideas while he and I were out slumbering along. Maguire was not a fast walker. He was a grazer, a sniffer. When he got older and his gait slowed even more, Kevin started walking with us. I think he realized that we weren’t going to have our precious boy forever after all. The walks became our family time.

This morning was mostly quiet. Cooper’s prancing feet in the rocks and dirt made a lovely percussive melody. I walked along slightly behind him, my flip flops snapping as flip flops do. Behind us and in the distance, the sound of tires churned on pavement as people did whatever people do on Saturday mornings, going to wherever they need and want to go.

The solitude of the day was wrapping around us. In that, I found – I find – great joy. 

Tags: , , , , , ,

live out loud

Repping the artist

by Lorin Michel Thursday, March 6, 2014 11:01 PM

Our friend Roy is an artist. He made his living for years as an art director and illustrator, but he is truly a fine artist. He sketches constantly, paints daily. His work is amazing. I know I’m biased but I also believe him to be very talented. Like so many talented people, though, it’s hard to break through. It always seems like a case of right-place-right-time in order to make a name for oneself. How else to explain Thomas Kinkaid?

Several years ago, Bobbi created a website for his work, and put said work up on additional fine art sites for people to order prints. She and I recently started a blog called The Artist’s Loft, which we post on Roy’s site but that also appears on Fine Art America. We’re working on getting the word out.

Kevin has also gotten in the act as an artist’s rep. Bobbi designed a postcard and Kevin has been talking to local galleries and putting out feelers online. We believe it’s a matter of persistence, of getting the art out.

Tomorrow we’re delivering a packet of information to Agua Caliente Park Gallery, an oasis on the far eastern side of town. It used to be a ranch but has since become a place to see water in the desert, all types of birds and wildlife, and visit an art gallery that showcases works of nature as well as the great desert southwest.

Bobbi sent us the paintings they want to show, placing them in a great layout. Kevin is going to print them on regular 8 ½” x 11” photo paper, along with artist information, the postcard and contact information for contacting the rep, meaning Kevin.

Repping an artist can be a full-time job. Much like a writer has an agent, ditto actors, fine artists have representatives that do the same, namely pitch the artist’s work to galleries in order to get the artist a showing. With a showing comes potential notoriety, not to mention possible sales. Sales are good because money makes the artist’s work more appreciated, not to mention provides money to buy more canvases, more paints, more sketch pads. It also has the added benefit of helping with little things like food and the mortgage or rent.

Eternal Dance, commissioned for Lorin Michel, 2013. For Pam.

Kevin is enjoying this a great deal. I think, in many ways, it’s easier to be the rep than the artist because for the artist, it’s highly personal. Even though Roy is probably Kevin’s best friend and Kevin wants nothing more than to see him succeed, he’s still removed from the work because he doesn’t do the creating. The hardest thing for an artist to do is represent him or herself. It requires two different types of personality: one who’s into sales/marketing; the other who’s … not.

Artists can be reclusive. They see things differently and thus think and react differently. This is why they can’t represent themselves. Because they don’t think like business people, in terms of dollars and cents, or logistics. They think creatively rather than linearly.

Which is why we currently have Kevin, a businessman, who has dusted off his sales/marketing hat and is starting to pimp Roy’s art everywhere he can. We’re determined – we’re committed – to get this fabulous art into some galleries. It starts with one. That’s all it takes and then hopefully it snowballs. If anybody deserves the accolades, it’s Roy. Anyone who knows him agrees. Anyone who doesn’t would if they knew him and knew his work.

Celebrating art and especially the fine artist Roy Guzman. Keep your fingers crossed for some showing soon.

Tags: , , , , ,

live out loud

The air feels alive

by Lorin Michel Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:45 PM

A storm approaches slowly. The air is crisp though warm, puffy clouds float amongst the blue of the sky. In the distance, darker, more ominous clouds are gathering. They say it’s Armageddon. I suspect they’re wrong. There will be weather but there is supposed to be weather this time of year. Since we haven’t had any of late, it’s much bigger news that it might otherwise be.

I love when the air feels alive. I actually heard somebody say that the other day and it rang so true. The wind blows. There is an electrical charge that pulsates throughout, like static electricity. Touch something and it snaps and sparks. The air flicks.

The wind swirls and gushes, teases the trees and the flowers, ruffles the hair. Birds flaps and fly, and soar, chasing each other up and down and around before coming to a screeching halt atop the building. You can hear the sound of their wings as the pulse through the air.

Butterflies hover and alight. Moths do the same. Small flying insects cruise about, looking for access to the light, the house. The wind helps them as well.

Sunlight streams through the upper windows of the house, the windows up near the ceiling some 16 feet up. Maybe even higher. They cut across the wall, horizontal glass that’s been UV coated so as to hopefully curb some of the fading that inevitably occurs because of the sun. Below, dust particles dance in each stream. I am forever amazed at how much is actually inside the air, things we can’t see until we can.

I am dust particles in sunlight, I am the round sun.
Say I am You, by the 13th century poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

I used to joke to those back east that I didn’t trust air I couldn’t see. They thought it was hysterical, given that I lived in Los Angeles and LA had long been known for its smog problem. When I was in college and visited California for the first time, I spent a day or two in Los Angeles. I remember driving up from San Diego thinking that the air must be so dense with emissions tat you couldn’t see anything. A really dirty fog bank.

It was nothing like that of course. The sky was blue. Yes, there was a bit of smog but it hardly affected the views or visibility. I saw an article today about China and their horrendous smog problem. There was a picture of a man walking his golden retriever. Both were wearing surgical masks to block out some of the bad air. All around them was smog, making visibility only about 16 feet or so. Scary stuff. The air in China is alive in a completely different way; not a good way.

Clouds are rolling in over the desert, filling the air. Those that were fluffy and white seem to have left for drier prairies. These clouds are heavy, a brownish gray, ready for rain. The air is getting thicker even as the winds pick up. A storm is coming and it will be glorious.

It will drench the earth, cleanse the soul. It will be difficult while it’s happening, but once it’s over the air will be clearer, cleaner; crisper. Reborn like tomorrow.

The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wrote: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Another metaphor for life, much like the air being alive. A living, breathing entity that surrounds us, keeps us true, it can spark with furry and dissipate in the wind. And then, it can dance in the shafts of the sun. That’s what life is all about.

A little slice of power

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 22, 2014 12:03 AM

I don’t normally write about politics because it’s such a nasty business and this blog is all about being positive and uplifting; about celebration. Rarely is there anything to celebrate in the political world. The last thing I truly felt elated about was the election of Barack Obama in 2008. I remember standing in the living room, watching MSNBC, watching the returns come in state after state after state. When the polls closed in California at 8 pm, 11 pm on the east, we watched. Brian Williams said that the polls had just closed in the west, and as the electoral votes started to roll in, he said, simply “it’s 11 pm on the east coast, we’re back on the air, and we have news.” Then he said, “Let’s listen.” And for the next few minutes, all they broadcast was the joy, the cheering, the pandemonium, in Chicago, in New York, In Birmingham, Alabama. California and our exquisite 55 electoral votes pushed it over the top.

We sobbed. And toasted a country that could finally, after our past, and a Constitution that still calls blacks 3/5th of a person, elect a black man as president. A man we actively campaigned for; a man we viewed as transformative.

That was then and this is, painfully, now. For the past six years, we have witnessed a country torn apart by politics, nasty, destructive, mean politics. I have watched in dismay as race has been injected again and again and again. I sobbed in a different kind of way as I’ve watched the disrespect shoveled onto the President of the United States. The man and the office. What had made me so proud has also made me cringe for what our country has dissolved into. It’s me against you, us against them, a you suck no you suck game where no one wins and the country loses.

In 2010, Arizona enacted a horrendous bill, SB 1070, that essentially allowed for the discrimination of driving while brown. We were appalled. Yesterday, that same legislature passed SB 1062, a bill that is supposed to be about religious freedom but in actuality is about businesses being allowed to refuse to serve gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. It’s not just about allowing discrimination; it’s about shouting from the rim of the Grand Canyon that discrimination is a good thing and that it is somehow sanctioned by god.

I am not religious. While I understand that some good can come of religion, I also believe that most of the world’s greatest travesties have, at their root, religion. Ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust; hell, the Crusades of the middle ages. Human beings deigning to decide what side god is on has no place on this earth. If there is a god, he or she must be appalled at all of these shenanigans in his or her name. It’s what leads me to also believe that there probably isn’t a god because why would such an entity allow all of this strife – centuries worth – to continue without swatting us like the flies that we are with a definitive “knock it off.”

We love our adopted Tucson, but from the beginning we’ve been leery of Arizona politics. It just seems so very backward. As much of the country struggles to move forward, states like Arizona seem determined to move back into the middle of the 20th century. It’s cringe-worthy.

We try not to think about it too much. We try to focus on the beauty of the state, on the desert and all of the wonder it has to offer. When Justin was here last week, exploring, he came home each night amazed. He said to us: “When you guys decided to move to Tucson, I just didn’t get it at all. But I realized that all I knew was the little bubble of the University. I get it now.” It made us feel vindicated somehow. Our kid has endorsed and even embraced our new life. We were feeling good.

And then came yesterday. Once again, we were horrified and embarrassed. I have found myself questioning why I would want to live here. I’ve also been determined to find something good in this, if there can be any good. I found it thanks to a man named Rocco DiGrazia, proprietor of Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria.

Yesterday, Rocco tweeted this: “As a longtime employer and feeder of the gay community, Rocco’s reserves the right to eject any State Senators we see fit to kick out. That is all.” A short time later, a sign was posted in the window of his pizzeria that says the same thing. I told Kevin about it at lunch. His immediate response: we’re going for dinner.

Evidently we’re not the only ones. I don’t know how many likes they had on Facebook this morning but when I liked them this afternoon, they had just over 6,000, a number I suspect began to climb after the Huffington Post featured a short article. The story has since picked up steam and has gone national. As I write this, they have 9,343 likes and it’s climbing almost by the minute.

It’s Facebook I realize, but the fact that so many people – some from as far away as Australia – are taking the time to seek out this little Chicago-style pizzeria in the Old Pueblo makes me feel better. It makes me feel that maybe people are finally starting to get fed up with all of the crazy and are ready to stand up and say “enough.”

We’ll support Rocco’s with more than a like. We’re leaving to get our pizza in just a few minutes. Here in the OP, we say live and let live, and live it out loud.

Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

Feliz Navidad

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, December 24, 2013 10:02 PM

Spending our first holiday season in the Old Pueblo has introduced us to a number of new festivities. There was the snow at La Encantada, blasted out of mini snow machines at 6 and 6:45 on Friday and Saturday nights as carolers sang below. It was actually very Christmasy, and certainly cold enough for snow. That’s something we had not expected in our move from Southern California. It gets cold there, to be sure, but it seems colder here in the desert. I’ve spent the last weeks bundled up even in the house. The night we went to La Encantada for snow, we had to duck into a local restaurant and sit next to their fire so I could get warm. It felt very much like the holidays.

The spectacle that is Winterhaven is quite something. This is a neighborhood not far from here where they’ve had an annual Festival of Lights every year since 1949 when a man named CB Richards created the small residential area. It was Mr. Richards who purchased the first lights used in the first festival. He also purchased the Aleppo pine trees that line the neighborhood, quite out of place in the desert, except during the Christmas season when the temperatures often curl around 30 degrees. There are electrical connections near each tree so that hundreds of thousands of white, red, blue and green lights can blaze beautifully, in the trees and on the houses. Those lights have shown brightly every year save one, during the energy crunch in the 1970s. It’s a stunning display and something Kevin and I had never experienced before moving here. What’s even better is that cars are only allowed on three nights, and two of those are after Christmas.

The Festival is free but the residents request a donation of canned food. In 2012, they raised nearly $21,000 and offered approximately 34,000 pounds of food to the local food bank.

Many homes outside of Winterhaven also decorate for the season. As newcomers we wondered if somehow the Dark Skies Ordnance, which dictates there be no bright lights at night, including street lights, would preclude people from putting lights on their houses and dancing reindeer in their front yards. We needn’t have wondered. Many trim their homes in lights, and wire-framed reindeer graze merrily. Luminarias are also plentiful. These candlelit brown paper bags are also called farolitos, meaning little lanterns, which according to my research may or may not be the correct term. The tradition of using these small lanterns first began in the 16th century as a way to light the way toward Midnight Mass on the final night of Las Posadas, a reenactment of the story of Mary and Joseph and their search for an inn in Bethlehem.

I’ve long loved the look of luminarias. In the past, paper bags were filled with sand and a candle was placed inside. Today, there are electric luminarias, undoubtedly safer and easier, though not quite as eerily beautiful, with the live flame contained and dancing inside the bag.

Experiencing the holiday season in Tucson has been one of wonder and joy, an adventure in finding the right coat to wear. For 25 plus years, our Christmases were spent in Los Angeles. While we didn’t have family there we did have our closest friends, our chosen family. We would all gather for Christmas dinner; the day after would be spent wine tasting in Santa Barbara county. It’s hard to move to a new area and I worried about the holidays especially. I wondered if we would be lonely, if we’d find new traditions. What we’ve found is a city alive with spirit, and color, and lights, and that this season – my favorite – is bursting with local traditions, new to us, perhaps to others as well. From light festivals like Winterhaven to the historic Arizona Inn, where 2500 tiny lights are strung on a 16 foot tree that’s then decorated with glass, wooden Santas, colored tin ornaments from Mexico, white doves and more we have found music, snow, theatre and Tucsonans making merry.

We have a tree in our new home, my Byer’s Choice Carolers collection, and a simple wreath on our front door, one with white lights and flocked snow. At night, it illuminates the drive and lights our way.

Each evening, when the temperatures drop and Christmas lights blaze to life, the new traditions present themselves readily. We put on a heavy coat and a scarf, gloves for our hands, and with our beloved Cooper in tow, off we go to walk through our local neighborhoods, breathing in our new city and its festivities. We find ourselves marveling at the decorations, listening to the sounds of children playing and dogs barking, of shoppers rushing to and fro. We’re at home here – we’ve come home – and we’re embracing our new lives in the Old Pueblo. Feliz Navidad indeed.

christian louboutin online discount christian louboutin wholesale jerseys from china replica oakleys wholesale jerseys cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys oakley sunglasses sales cheap jerseys free shopping michael kors handbags nike nhl jerseys cheap nhl jerseys cheap replica oakleys oakleys sale cheap jerseys from china christian louboutin outlet 2016 cheap fake oakleys WHOLESALE AUTHENTIC JERSEYS fake ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin cheap christian louboutin online cheap jerseys cheap oakleys cheap jerseys from china cheap michael kors wholesale mlb jerseys replica oakleys store cheap jerseys china fake oakleys authentic nhl jerseys cheap wholesale nfl jerseys discount oakleys cheap oakleys fake oakley sunglasses replica christian louboutin cheap oakley sunglasses authentic jerseys cheap cheap oakleys outlet wholesale oakleys christian louboutin online wholesale cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys fake cheap oakleys discount jerseys sale cheap ray bans fake cheap oakleys michael kors outlet cheap wholesale jerseys replica ray bans wholesale jerseys outlet wholesale nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake cheap oakleys outlet ray bans sale christian louboutin outlet oakleys sunglasses wholesale authentic jerseys discount ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin online nhl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys discount ray bans wholesale jerseys cheap ray bans michael kors handbags outlet replica michael kors wholesale oakley sunglasses ray bans outlet cheap jerseys china cheap nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys cheap oakleys cheap ray bans cheap christian louboutin discount oakleys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap michael kors handbags fake cheap oakleys discount christian louboutin wholesale nhl jerseys michael kors on sale discount ray bans cheap jerseys wholesale cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors bags replica ray bans cheap sunglasses ray bans authentic jerseys authentic jerseys from china cheap oakleys outlet replica oakley sale red bottoms shoes on sale wholesale oakleys cheap nfl jerseys cheap replica oakleys wholesale oakleys cheap christian louboutin outlet cheap oakleys store cheap michael kors cheap ray bans cheap authentic nfl jerseys paypal cheap fake oakleys cheap oakleys cheap michael kors outlet fake ray bans fake ray bans cheap authentic nike jerseys cheap authentic jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake oakleys store replica oakleys cheap christian louboutin fake oakley cheap cheap jerseys wholesale cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys china cheap oakleys online replica michael kors cheap ray bans jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys discount ray bans cheap michael kors store cheap ray bans ray bans sunglasses jerseys wholesale wholesale china jerseys cheap mlb jerseys oakley sunglasses wholesale nba jerseys christian louboutin outlet wholesale oakleys wholesale authentic jerseys wholesale mlb jerseys cheap michael kors outlet cheap jerseys online shopping cheap ncaa jerseys michael kors bags cheap fake oakleys cheap jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors cheap discount ray bans ray bans sunglasses cheap jerseys free shopping cheap nba wholesale jerseys fake oakleys replica oakleys cheap nhl jerseys cheap christian louboutin cheap oakleys official jerseys replica ray bans cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys cheap cheap authentic ncaa jerseys michael kors on sale cheap fake oakleys cheap elite jerseys discount oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors online wholesale and retail oakleys fake ray bans cheap wholesale jerseys
Filter by APML