Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Path

My best friend once gave me some wonderful advice given her...I don't recall the original source. But it was at a time of major crossroads for me. She said, "Go out and be fabulous. Do all the things you want to do and be as busy as you can be doing what you love to do. And then, look to your left and right to see who is there beside you and those are the people you should keep in your life. Here is where you shall find your friends, your loved ones and perhaps even someone with whom to share your life." If they aren't wanting to run beside you, then they shall be left behind or shall head off onto their own path, and it is not our job to follow nor to lead, but to live our lives as we want. That doesn't mean we must be alone nor that everyone we care for has to share the same path, but we mustn't compromise our own dreams beyond the point of recognition. We don't owe that to anyone. And I think it is important to recognize the difference between a friend and an aquaintance. Always remember, treat yourself as a best friend. Would you ask your best friend to give up her dreams because they aren't yours or would you try to find a way to be supportive even if you don't agree or even understand? We have to be our own advocates. We have to be our own best friends. And we have to seek friends and lovers who will compliment us not change us. The key is in finding someone who is already on your path. Isn't it easier to look for something where it already exists? Take a moment to look at your path, enjoy the beauty that is there, all around you and then ask the man or woman to your left or right, would you care to join me?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Art of Art Modeling

So when you maintain a career in the arts, you often cobble together a series of odd jobs, sometimes very odd. I have always sought to maintain a career which at least in some way enhances my chosen profession, even if said jobs are just inspiration for my writing career. Many years ago I began modeling for my best friend who is a visual artist; at first just as a figure in her landscapes and later as an actual subject. And no, I did not take my clothes off…not back then. But times change and here’s the thing. The more I modeled, the more I found I not only had a passion but a calling for it. And it played perfectly to my need for recognition, my desire to make a permanent mark upon the world and my crazy body image issues. No, I never had a skewed image of myself as overweight t least not in my youth. Instead, I always thought I was WAY smaller than I was. As a child of the 80’s who knew what was under all those layers. I gained 10 lbs, took off two layers and no one could believe how much weight I had lost. When I actually started putting on weight, I was in denial for like three years. “Wow, these clothes have really shrunk in the wash,” and “Wow, that is not good camera angle. Who took this picture? They suck.” I must admit I think this is a far more enjoyable form of body dysmorphia! But eventually I lost the weight again and gained the confidence to…duh, duh, duh…take my clothes off!

My first experience with undraped modeling which is the polite, artsy way of saying nude so it doesn’t feel so much like stripping, was a trip. I was asked if I did undraped modeling and like the good acing student that I was said “of course I can do that,” because we are always taught take the job-you’ll figure it out at some point.

The room was bright and slightly chilled but they had heaters all set up for me, like a little Caribbean oasis in the middle of the room. I had worn a beautiful peach toned full length flowing handkerchief skirt and matching top. Yes, I dressed up. It’s like dressing up for the gynecologist or putting on makeup to see the dentist; you just feel a little more confident in your most vulnerable state. But, they actually loved my little ensem so much they asked if I’d be willing to keep it on, at least the skirt. Hell’s yeah! Can you believe it? I’m easing into nude!
Everyone asks me “Is it hard? Is it liberating? What do your parents think?”

Is it hard? F*ck yes, but not for the reasons they think. It is hard because it is work. Sometimes I am in some weird position holding a pose for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, trying to look relaxed and inspiring, reassuring the new students who very often are drawing the human form for the first time, while trying to keep my extremities from loosing all feeling. And like everything in my life that I do, I want to get it right. I want to be the best, otherwise, why bother?

Is it liberating? You know what it is? It’s clinical. I am nothing but shapes on a canvas, highlight and shade, values and colors. I am a person on my breaks and eventually, I am something ethereal and beautiful…or sometimes I am an octopus or a mantis or a demon. I have no say on what I shall ultimately become. So in this way, it is liberating. I may become anything limited only by the imagination of the artist before me.

What do my parents think? Well, if my mother was still alive, I’m sure she would think it was cool. She was unflappable. Once, attempting to get a rise out of her, I said I was going to do porn. “Well,” she said, “You better be the star! Don’t you be some d*mned fluffer.” Um, I didn’t even know what a fluffer was. It is hard to rebel with that kind of support! As for my father, he says, “This is my daughter Laurel. She is a very gifted artist. She writes too.” What more does he have to say?

I will say that art modeling does offer some pretty amusing anecdotes…and a few hygienic challenges not experienced in other professions. At least I hope not or there are some serious OSHA violations occurring. For instance, you know how when you eat spinach you worry about what is in your teeth? Well, um, I’ll just say, you don’t want scotts, the softest tissue. ‘Nuff said!

And as for dating, art modeling is not the best ice breaker. I suppose I could go with model…but I’m 5’4”. What am I modeling, Osh Kosh B’Gosh? So, I skirt the issue, no pun intended and just say, “I m a gifted artist. I write too. And I make my Dad proud.”

F*ck Buddy

“Why does my F*ck Buddy have to live 3000 miles away?” I stood stunned, as the full weight of this statement slammed into me like a freight train. Yes, I knew we weren’t “together”. We weren’t in a relationship-the dreaded “r” word, kryptonite to my otherwise stable sensibilities anyway. But we were something…I thought…something meaningful, well more meaningful than this. What an ugly turn of phrase, f*ck buddy. I didn’t say anything but my companion could read the hurt which I quickly tried to hide behind a forced smile.

“I don’t know why I said that. It’s not even true.”

We talked briefly, came to some sort of uncomfortable compromise and continued with our day but it was clear a chasm had suddenly erupted in that one thoughtless moment, and all I wished was to throw myself into it.

It is many months since this occurrence and we are friends, quite close in fact and we have been able to laugh about many things, but this one not so much. I’ve had a lot of time to sit with this and to discuss it with other people. Yes, I am a highly and perhaps somewhat overly analytical person. And we all know that I have issues with the word f*ck. But, I think sometimes people, men in particular, but women as well don’t understand the damage they do with simple words. I’ve had men since my divorce became a known quantity try to convince me that now I should EXPLORE MY SEXUALITY, which is man code for “do me and don’t expect dinner.” I’m no prude, I have not retreated from sex but I still don’t sleep with anyone where trust is lacking and for me, it is never casual. And that is not something I feel I should be ashamed of. There is no shame in wanting to keep sex special. It doesn’t have to be life changing or permanent but it should be meaningful.

I’ve had men and women say to me, “I’m just being honest.” But is f*cking someone you not only don’t care about but don’t feel anything for one way or another honestly what you want? I mean, why not just engage in some seriously self-loathing masterbation while you’re at it? Ok, now I do want to try that but I digress.

When I was an adolescent and my mother and I had “the talk” she did not try to convince me that I should be well-married and virginal into my adulthood-and well she shouldn’t have for she herself was no blushing flower but she said something to me that has always stuck. “Laurel, sex should be special. It isn’t just physical, it’s emotional.” She told me about going to a party with her room mate and when they arrived she laughingly confessed she had slept with nearly all the men in the room. “I didn’t judge her for it. I loved her,” my mother said, “but…it made me sad. For you, I just want you to never regret having slept with someone. It doesn’t have to be forever. But it should be that in twenty years if you run into that man in the street, you both will smile and it will be a pleasant memory. And forever he will care about you. And he should care about you. That is all I want for you.” That has always stayed with me and guided my actions.

I don’t condemn casual sex; I just know it is not for me. And I know that for me, since there is such a strong level of trust and caring with anyone with whom I choose to share myself, the sky’s kind of the limit on what I can be open to. Isn’t it ironic? So many people think, they are so free with their sexuality, but it is far easier to be open (to some really crazy sh*t) with a friend than with a stranger.

It’s true what we had was fleeting-brief by necessity and design-but still wonderful in the moment and lovely in the reverie.

So, as for f*ck buddy, I just want to say, it isn’t necessary to diminish something beautiful in an attempt to make it casual. Sex can be intimate and meaningful and yes, even life changing without having to be forever. Give it a try some time. You might just find that trust and love…they’re a pretty great kink!