Tuesday, March 31

Gratitude and Art: Rantings of the Anti-Oprah

Today, I am a woman.

Oh. No. That's the other thing.

Today, I finished something I started. That's almost as big an accomplishment. Today is March 31st (Happy Birthday, Judy!), and it is the last day of the National Blog Posting Month challenge to post every day. I'm feelin' pretty good about it. (Yes, I re-upped for April. I'm that sort...I need a little nudge. I might be crazy for re-upping. I'll let you know. At least I get a new badge!).

But here's what I really want to say: Oprah* really ruined that whole gratitude thing for me, and I'm not afraid to say so.

Here's the thing. Some fine people in my life have suggested that I do just that--make some list, mental or otherwise--once a day, maybe before bed, of the things I am grateful for. It's a good idea. Maybe even a really good idea. It's even the kind of idea I might have suggested to people at one time. But then it was co-opted by Oprah and "keeping a gratitude journal". I don't know. It was a great idea when I wrote it down and stuck it in an envelope for future reference, but then when Oprah licked the envelope....eeuuugh. Somebody got a breath mint?

I say this with full awareness that there are some, maybe even many of you, who are somewhere on the like to love spectrum about Oprah. I may be cast out from the sisterhood, I know. I'll take that chance.

I used to like her, way back when. A little, sometimes more than a little. But that's when she was a talk show host. You know, before she was a prophet, before half of America read what she told them to read or thought what she told them to think or voted for who she told them to vote for or shushed people when she spoke or cried when her dog died or felt personally involved in her struggle with weight. Hey, I struggle with my weight. Does anybody care? No. Nor should you. Yeah, I get it that that's because I'm not a media celebrity, but as I said in a prior post, I do NOT get the cult of celebrity at all (with the possible exception of Joan Baez, since I once hyperventilated in her presence...I'm all into full disclosure here) Your neighbor struggles with her weight. Probably somebody you work with, or somebody you're related to struggles with their weight. Why is Oprah's fat so much more fascinating than anyone else's fat? You know, that's all it is, right? Fat.

I'm not even religious, but maybe it's that whole golden calf thing from way way back in my history somewhere--it just looks and smells and feels like idolatry to me (and you know what they say about ducks). My skin crawls when I see people go ga-ga over celebrities--what they say, what they do, what they buy. It nearly tops my list of things I don't get. At the risk of dating myself (hey, who else have I got to date?), I didn't even get the Bobby Sherman thing (who is a cop now, by the way). "Maybe that's because you were a lesbian," I can hear you saying. I wasn't one then. I don't think so.

There. I said it. A double whammy. Bobby Sherman AND Oprah. And just to show you how nice i am, here are some rocks to throw at me. I'm ready for ya.

But since we're on the topic anyway (not that you had a choice), people also talk about the "responsibility" that comes with fame. Giving back, building houses for people in New Orleans, giving money and name to worthy causes, donating a fabulous auction item for a certain Boston women's chorus who happens to be having a big fundraiser coming up in celebration of the 5th anniversary of equal marriage in Massachusetts.... Well, how about the responsibility of reminding your followers that celebrities are....well...people. Where is the celebrity who is promoting the Getting People-To-Think-For-Themselves Association? (If you ever hear of an episode of Oprah in which she tells everyone to stop listening to her so blindly, let me know. I'll tivo it for sure.)

Well, of course, you knew this was coming. It was in the cards. I hate to disappoint, so here it is:

So.... I don't keep a gratitude journal. I tried once. I tried to get over the Oprah-ness of it, and bought a special little notebook. I wrote in it once. Now I use it to make shopping lists. It just made me feel like I had to buy a snuggie, eat Hamburger Helper for dinner, and get my teeth whitened. Ya know?

Which is NOT to say that I'm not grateful. [Ah, she's finally getting to the point! Yeah, I hear the collective sigh of relief.]

Today was a very challenging day. Several bad things happened, any one of which had quite the potential to send me on the rapid downward spiral with which I am far too intimately acquainted. But I was saved.

Okay. Stop laughing. Right now. Stop laughing that I used those words "I was saved".

I was saved, as ever, by art (I have written every day for a month, and I have never written about art, which is incredible.) Not art in a museum. Everyday art. All kinds, including the kind that my new friend Kelly writes about in her blog. I don't know how art could be any more beautiful than that.

I am grateful to be a person who sees art (and an art project) in everything. So when I found myself needing to take a two-mile walk when I didn't expect it (don't ask), I noticed things. And I took pictures. They may not look like art to you. They look like art to me.

That last one, the now defunct and vacant Polaroid building, has hundreds of small glass windows, which made me obsess about doing a community art project where people bring their old square polaroid pictures and put one in the center of each of those glass blocks (each is probably about 5" x 5", just the right size to "frame" a photo) and take a Polaroid photo of it. You just can't get upset about the reason that you have to walk two miles when you're obsessing about an idea like that.

I came up with it. Don't be getting any ideas.

And the other thing I did (those of you who have germ issues, time to cover your eyes, plug your ears, and hum) is pick stuff up. This is an old habit. A very old habit. I pick stuff up, I make jewelry out of it. I name the jewelry (what? you didn't know jewelry had names?) after the event that resulted in my finding the stuff, or the street that it was found on. It's happened for years. Here's today's treasures:

I know, they don't look like much now. But they'll be great when they're done. I'll post a pic of the necklace when it's done. And yes, it has a name. Maybe by then, I'll be ready to post that, too.

And speaking of media celebrity, check THIS out!! Next thing you know, I'll be telling you what to read!!

*No, I didn't link to Oprah's website, even if it would bring me readers. Yeah, I'm a blogsnob. Why should this medium be different than any other medium? (See, there's that religion coming in again....must be the season) But Bobby Sherman, now THERE'S a different story.


SusanKr said...

You didn't get Bobby Sherman because you *weren't* a lesbian yet. I couldn't figure out why I liked him until I saw a video of him - he looked like a dyke - he was a non-threatening guy - perfect for the budding lesbian.

Robin said...

Okay. This is a REALLY funny (and great) answer. And probably a good point. I'm thinking about posting a a pic of him (and old pic) tomorrow, just for the uninitiated.

Anna said...

Oprah's celebrity-fawning behaviour is what really got to me. Why should I care about Tom Cruise jumping on the couch, or so-and-so's latest movie. She does great things - and she has the money to do it. Many people with a lot less do great things, too and they don't get recognition for it.

Have you heard of encaustic? It's basically taking found objects, embedding them in wax on canvas, and painting them...I have a few friends who do encaustic, and it's amazing.

ConverseMomma said...

Oh My! I'm actually all sorts of blushing to be linked in this post.

And, I am now certain that we were sisters in another life. I'm right with ya on the Oprah thing. Although, the writer in me would probably crawl on those stones, even hot, for her to pick a novel I wrote as part of her book club.

I swear, she picks you, and you hit number one.

Although, she did pick Edgar Sawtell and I love that book. Gah! I wonder if she is even the one to pick them.

And as for found art, you. Yes. You. You are art and poetry I find in my everyday.

All love,

Robin said...

You hit the nail right on the head, Kelly. A couple of times, in the early days, Oprah picked some books that I was already reading or that I loved. I was so pissed.

And yeah, absolutely. If she picked a book I wrote (if I wrote one), I would retract anything and everything, which only goes to show, we all have a price. :) (Hypocrisy: An Equal Opportunity Employer)

And there ya go, makin' me blush right back.