Of First Dates and Frankensteinish Crabapple-Rose Bouquets

My sexy Piano Man and I went on another first date… and my hair could barely control its excitement… Either that, or the wind was feeling artful. Seriously, three minutes into the ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island, my hair looked like it had just exploded.

I pretended to be very vexed, and the wind behaved itself for about five seconds…

…but I made the mistake of grinning too soon…

…and my hair ka-BOOM-ed again.

Our yearly date went as usual—we shared a ricotta pizza (mushrooms, olives, green peppers) at the place we had our 1st first date, and followed the cheesy yumminess with homemade ice cream. After that, we headed towards Silver Lake, the spot where my Piano Man and I proposed to each other and have partaken on many first gropes.

We walked by Mundy Avenue. This bit might not be as cool, if you’ve never read Fables.

My lover walked on a tree that fell over a creek a few stormy summers ago…

…sat on a huge rock…

…and I noticed a nail quartet that had been hammered into a pine. Poor tree.

About a mile from the tree, we met a huge turtle. Well, we met 2 huge turtles. But since turtle romance looks rather disturbing, I figured that it would not be a good idea to post pictures of the loving couple *cough*. Say hi to the female…  pre-disturbance.

Once we got over the shock of seeing huge turtles making wee turtles, we continued our walk towards Silver Lake…. where I climbed a crabapple tree. The ecstasy of getting up on that tree without feeling the excruciating pain I felt last year (when I wasn’t trying to climb anything) was glorious. The memory of it is making me grin like a lunatic.

At some point during our journey, my Piano Man rescued some roses that had been recently crippled. I grabbed a half-snapped branch from the crabapple tree and brought the beautifully freakish bouquet home.

When we stepped out of the train, a man who seemed to be drunk enough to set his own breath on fire, looked from my face to my Frankensteinish crabapple-rose creation (which my Piano Man was carrying), and said to me, “You are very lucky, both of you.”

I nodded my thanks, but said nothing (since my mouth was dying to ask him if he meant that my Piano Man and I were both lucky, or if he was seeing two of me… and I suspect the latter might not have been very polite). But I did smile at him, thinking, Yes, we are.

Then my Piano Man and I got home, and made each other luckier.

Nature Is Therapy

I was in the hospital courtyard collecting fallen leaves, and comparing their colors to a blackout poem bit I had just finished, when another patient asked what I was doing.

“Required therapy”, I told her without looking up from my work.

She watched me for a few seconds, then said, “You pick leaves for therapy?”

“Sure,” I mumbled. My needed therapy involves any activity that exercises my fingers, wrists, shoulders, posture, eye-hand coordination… I should’ve said that to her, but I wanted to find the perfect leaves before having to go to my next appointment, and she was distracting me.

I sort of wanted to get rid of her quickly. But she was as persistent as I was exasperated. In the end, showing her what I meant as I did it took less time than giving her the slip. This is how I explained it to her (without the glorious illustrations):

To me, therapy is anything that rehabilitates, heals and entertains mind, body and spirit. The act of coloring a page can be soothing, even mind-healing (depending what one is coloring), but this activity alone doesn’t offer much physical exercise. This is the reason why the presentation of my blackout and handwritten poetry has become more elaborate—I walk the woods (or hospital courtyards *grins*) to collect materials, then use specific movements to complete each piece, while imagining the parts as a whole.

Some might not think of stitching or ripping paper by hand as very complex work, but when the hands doing the ripping and stitching are half-numb, well… complexity joins the party whether one wants it or not. The controlled movements require patience and dedication. And this is just the mechanics, the real mind-healing (for me) is shaping the visual piece in a way that it doesn’t just echo the words, but also amplifies the message.

Take the following piece, as an example (it includes some of the leaves I collected that day… while I spoke to the woman):

I used a quote I shared on Instagram, from “The Pretty Corpses of Flowers”. The words are handwritten on a recycled coffee filter. The brown marker I used to blackout the poem bit made me think of autumn… So, I gathered leaves to match that feeling, nature that says to me that Healing doesn’t always come in bright colors or smooth textures.

Can your eyes feel the roughness of the paper? The wrinkles that seem to chant, “I’ve been around… brewed coffee that made someone happy… and I’m still going strong”?

Can you appreciate the beauty of the blemishes that make these leaves unique?

It’s not just the exercising of hands with coloring and stitching and ripping of paper, or the soothing of mind by finding bits of life within living poetry, prose, leaf… It’s all of it, dancing together. It’s the soul healing flesh and bone with art that feeds hearts through the eyeballs. It’s human daring denying pain the chance to shroud life with ugliness. It’s my Self baring her teeth, naturally… and delighting every time others join in the baring.

What about you, my Wicked Luvs? What’s your therapy? How do you dance with it?