It was amazing. The year is over but we ALL (all the students and Tom and I) got together tonight at Satchel’s Pizza to celebrate Adrian’s comic that he did for Satchel (and he actually made money!) then went back to SAW to watch a Spike Jones documentary. God was it a lovely evening. I think the warmth is so evident in this photo. Too bad you couldn’t see Sally or Anna (my two favorites, I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but their work stands head and shoulders above the rest-wink-). And to top it off, the photo doesn’t make me want to cry, I actually think I look rather pretty. And to the barefoot fans who read in, of course I was barefoot!
Tom, through SAW, has posted a nice little gallery of my work on Fickr, so if you wanna see more… here’s more…
Well, gang, it’s coming, my first gig in years! Several years ago I swore off performing, and about 2 years ago I sold off most of my guitars and packed up the rest. But now I’m back, and this Friday, 3/29/13 at SAW during Artwalk, I will be performing my first set in many years. if you’re around, come on out.
“Obsessive compulsive disorder is, in the Hindu sense, a form of extreme attachment through disease.”
Today I laid my obsessions and depression, at Lord Shiva’s feet. At least with his grace and strength I may be able to let go. Think about it, what is an obsession but an extreme form of attachment? And all Hindus know that Attachment is the source of all suffering, the disease is nothing but attachment magnified through disease, and somehow figuring this out has made me feel lighter in ways that are miraculous.
Om Namah Shivaiya!
“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
― Marilyn Monroe
This post is really only for one of two groups of people, the first would be the foot-people, the second would be people who want to understand obsessive compulsive disorder a little better. So, WARNING: If you don’t fit into one of those two groups, don’t read this post, it’ll just be annoying.
So here’s an answer to “How does an obsessive compulsive function as a barefooter?” Well, the answer is, not terribly well, but one compulsion (let’s say “passion” instead: that of going barefoot) clashes with the obsessive compulsive disorder. Firstly through my fear of germs, bacteria, and viruses, which I largely simply don’t allow myself worry overmuch about, and the other clash mostly involves poor (emotional and intellectual) handling of injuries to my feet (which are somewhat inevitable if you are living purely barefoot every day of your life).
A case in point happened yesterday when I tore off my pinky toenail IN MY OWN ROOM! No, I wasn’t even out being wildly barefoot in unlikely and challenging situations and environments so that people could say “Well, that’s what you get for going barefoot all the time.” No, I was IN MY OWN ROOM barefoot like anyone else, and I stubbed my pinky toe on a tile (don’t want to explain that, just accept it) only to find that my pinky toenail was separated from my toe… BIG time! It’s still hanging in there, but it’s flappy, and it bled like crazy all the way around all four edges.
That wasn’t the hard part. I don’t get too wound up about pain. It just comes and goes, and I seem to have a fairly high threshold to pain, which is good as I have such a low threshold for the accompanying worry and anxiety (even outright panic). I don’t worry about or fear pain, as it passes quickly, I worry about things that last. And yes, ripping off (or nearly off) my toenail spun me into a panic and depression that, in the mind of a normal person not afflicted without OCD, seems so terribly out of proportion to what another person’s reaction would be to such a seemingly trivial injury. I didn’t sleep at all last night and I still feel sick to my stomach now.
This happened last night about 8, and today around 2:30 in the afternoon I am STILL feverishly and tearfully devastated by it.
There are reasons, anyone who knows me well and has known me deeply for a very long time, will understand how important my bare feet are to me. A passion for bare feet essentially dominated the driving and creative forces behind most of my best work, and that passion in many very real ways led me to becoming who I am. In the words of one hardcore barefoot woman I met on the Renaissance Festival circuit who once told me in reference to her own ever bare feet, “I’ve designed my life around it.” Well, as have I (and for a very very very long time in many different ways). So, as you can see, underneath the trivial obsessive nature there lies at least a little bit of logic. Bare feet have always been important to me, inspiring, arousing, frustrating, compelling…
So, with all that set up, what is it I’m so worried about?
Well, actually, for the most part, that I know that this will be preying on me for months. For months now I know that my obsessive nature will make this an ever present drone sticky, warm, and wet in my skull. When I am especially miserable with fear and anxiety I actually get feverish, I’m feverish now. THAT really upsets me, that this injury will take many months to work itself out, and the whole time it will be in the back of my mind. That really is the biggest problem, the thing that has really devastated me… yes, the circular logic of being obsessed with the misery caused by the obsession itself! Think about that… the obsession itself IS the primary source of the misery and NOT the things I’m actually worried about. My mood lately has been fragile to say the least, and I’m deeply depressed to know that this is going to be making me miserable for a very long time to come.
Then what are the things I’m worried (obsessing) about? Well, aside from the worry itself, the (largely unfounded and rarely occurring) possibility that it won’t grow back at all ever. Of course, I know this is possible, but it’s extremely (and I mean very extremely) unlikely. I’ve been through this twice with my big toes (and like this time, neither happened because I was barefoot in unsafe or even remotely unhealthy or unusual places, in other words, neither time was my barefoot lifestyle to blame), and both times they grew right back. Additionally, in a moment of mini-digression in defense of the barefoot lifestyle, as I researched this on the internet (loss of toenails/nails falling off) I realized that many many cases happen NOT due to a person’s being barefoot, but due to ill-fitting shoes! Yes, lots of people lose nails to their shoes, dancing, and all sorts of things that don’t involve being barefoot. So don’t blame my being barefoot for it, that’s simply not factual.
My other fear, and this is the one (that though still unlikely), is still somewhat possible, and that is that the nail will grow back ugly and deformed. This does happen, but usually not very often nor very badly. So, logically I know this is probably not going to happen (as both my big toenails not only came back, but they look great), but the fear that it might happen preys on me almost endlessly. Additionally, I believe that nails grow back deformed and ugly because of the crimping and cramping that goes on in shoes that deforms nails that most likely would have grown out beautifully if they weren’t pinched into shoes.
Of course I also worry that if it all goes badly and I’m left nail-less and deformed… what will I do? I’m a barefoot chick… I LOVE my feet and foot beauty. I can’t imagine being able to handle having deformed feet. I would feel, in a sense, ruined. Yep, that is the mindset of an obsessive. But it’s not all that irrational or illogical if you think about the fact that I am a very visual and aesthetic person.
And lastly I can label one of the fears the one that is real and now and in no way based on fear of the worst case scenario, and that is that I will absolutely have to deal with the ugliness and feelings of incompleteness every time I look at my feet no matter how well it all turns out. I will have to deal with and see this injury for many months to come no matter what the final result. That is a real drag.
Those are the things that will be darkening me from the back of my mind for months to come.
In the reality of the here and now I am doing healthy things, using hydrogen peroxide, neosporin, avoiding infection, wearing band-aids, being careful. I am not going to a doctor because the last time I did that the doctor more or less shrugged me off and told me to wait for it to fall of and let it grow back, there’s not much they can do. I’m also not going to a doctor ’cause I don’t yet have one. I’m also taking it easy, staying off it, and avoiding infectious situations.
But for now, I have to accept the fever, the worry, the disappointment, the fear, and just how long this will last. Of course after the initial shock wears off, people won’t know the difference, as an obsessive I’ve learned to share some of it with people, but for the most part I just keep the constant flow of this stuff stuffed in, smile, and do all the things I am supposed to do… and do them well. But underneath all that you know I’ll be worrying about something that most people would eventually simply forget about.
I felt compelled to write this so that anyone who wants to understand it might stand a chance, and because really thinking hard about it rather than flinching from it or letting it run the show is an effective way to help let go of some of the panic and worry.
In the meantime, if you comment, be gentle and encouraging, I really don’t need some pinhead telling me things that will just freak me out more.
To all my loyal surfers, I’ve just uploaded over thirty new cartoons to my site! Go to “galleries” and click on the “Non-Linear Logic” link. The navigation is easier if you ignore the sidebar and click right on the main link. Enjoy!
I was reminded Thursday night of one of my “LIFE RULES.” Not only reminded of the rule, but of why I made the rule, and more importantly, why I need to stick to it. I had gone to the Poetry Jam here in Gainesville, and was asked if I would remove my ankle bells (which, by the way I am very aware of, and I only move around rarely and when it’s appropriate anyway), and though I was asked by a wonderful, loving and profoundly talented person in the most tactful way possible (so much so that I almost agreed to do it), I left. And here’s why:
The rule is (and for those of you who know me well enough to know many things about my past, this will make sense):
I will NEVER again change anything about myself to suit anyone for any reason. Take me as I am or let me be.
Now one might ask… why not just take them off for the Poetry Jam? Well, I’ll get into why as it pertains to my life rule in a moment, but there are other reasons, like for example that I am a musician, and I’ve played noisy bars and coffee houses many times (many many times… “Stuck in a Lodi again”). So as far as I’m concerned, performers need to learn to deal with a few little distractions… if you can’t, that’s simply unprofessional… then there’s the whole “get over yourself” bit, too. Additionally, what is more poetic than the sound of a barefoot girl in ankle bells crossing a room? Well… the answer is nothing. I mean, one only needs to read a few Irish poems or song lyrics to encounter lines about girls with bells on their ankles and rings on their toes (I had both, by the way). So far as I’m concerned, what kind of poet is annoyed by rather than inspired by the sound of a barefoot girl in ankle bells crossing a room? Maybe it’s just me (and the Irish, Gypsies, Hindus and Arabians of old), but it seems a rather poetic and romantic image and sound, but what do I know, ’cause I still think poems oughta rhyme and should probably not have to contain the word “fuck” as a matter of course. Not that I even mind the word “fuck,” it’s a great word, perhaps even The Great Word (“poop’s a good word, too, by the way, but “fuck’s” better, I suppose).
Case in point:
Mira Danced with Ankle Bells
Mira danced with ankle-bells on her feet.
People said Mira was mad; my mother-in-law
said I ruined the family reputation.
Rana sent me a cup of poison and Mira
drank it laughing.
I dedicated my body and soul at the feet of Hari.
I am thirsty for the nectar of the sight of him.
Mira’s lord is Giridhar Nagar; I will
come for refuge to him.
K Balachandran · Sep 18, 2012
Your ankle bells..steal my sleep
Your ankle bells sonorous, kama’s weapons,
kill my nights mercilessly, oh! doe of the mountains
I roll on my bed, hearing them clinking always
come wearing them, let me relieve my pain, holding you in my arms.
But all that ranting aside, let’s get back to why I have this one grand rule:
I will NEVER again change anything about myself to suit anyone for any reason.
Well, let’s just leave the past out of it except to say that for decades I lived a very wrong and unhealthy life for fear of what others might think of me. I lived a dreadful depressing life full of alcohol and self denial. I am liberated now. And I had even abandoned and questioned my own dreams due to pressure from others. I won’t go into any more detail than that, but there are more immediate reasons than my past… my present.
In the present I have been told and asked to:
Tone down the way I dress,
Tone down my make-up,
Tone down my hair,
Tone down my vanilla perfume (by the way, no one ever tells people to back off on that overwhelming patchouli stuff),
Of course my barefoot lifestyle has also come under fire,
And now I’m to tone down my ankle bells.
I like my purple eyeshadow, vanilla perfume, hardcore barefoot lifestyle, clothes, hair, AND my toe rings and ankle bells. And besides, if I begin taking those things away, toning down, taming, conforming… what’s left of me? I’ll tell you what’s left of me… someone else, or at least a me that is based on committee decisions about who I am, and what I should look, smell, and sound like. No, folks, I’m Justine, purple, shiny lips, vanilla, big hair, bare feet, bangles, bells and all! If you don’t like me as I am… I’ll go somewhere else.
And besides, like I said earlier, what kind of poet isn’t inspired by a girl’s ankle bells? Well, one that doesn’t use rhymes and says “fuck” a lot, I guess.
I have a long history of seeking out, meeting and talking to my heroes and influences. And tonight I did it again! WOW am I excited. It’s been a long time since I’ve made any kind of connection like that, so it felt good to be doing that again.
I was looking for Exploitation directors who might be willing to talk with my Exploitation class at SAW. Of course Ferd and Beverly Sebastian were at the top of my list, but I’d found Beverly elusive, I thought I’d been close, but just couldn’t seem to make contact with her. I dig around, find numbers, email addresses, friends of friends, whatever, then I try and connect. With her I just couldn’t manage to make a connection. More often than not the people I approach are open, when they aren’t, I drop it and shrug it off. If they want their privacy, they deserve it, but for those who want to connect, I think the moments of mentorship (even of the briefest nature–even a mere encounter is a form of mentorship) are equally rewarding on both ends.
Tonight I tried again and found a phone number for “Ben” on-line on a site that was marketing films for Sebastian Films Inc. I thought “Hmmm… wonder if that’s Ben Sebastian who was actually in ‘Gator Bait with the unforgettable Claudia Jennings?” I picked up the phone nervously and dialed the number. No answer.
One minute later my phone rings, it’s Ben, “Ben Sebastian?” I asked. Yes, it was!
You have got to be kidding! I was nervous as hell, primarily giddy as a little girl over it. ‘Gator Bait is not only one of my top favorite Exploitation films, it may be one of my favorite films PERIOD. And here I was talking to one of the actors, the son of the man and woman who wrote and directed the movie… the very Ben who worked next to Claudia Jennings! It was like getting a letter from Jean Rollin or getting a critique through the mail from Frank Thorne. It was exciting and real and reminded me that real people make the things I love.
I was too nervous to talk sensibly, a little too taken aback at how REAL he was, and I mean that in the sense that ‘Gator Bait is no longer something that happened in mythic terms on some lofty inaccessible mountain. It’s solid to me now, I made a real-time connection… it’s now a part of me. Of course I’m hoping to work something out so that the Sebastian’s can talk to my class, but if that doesn’t happen and all I get is this one call to Ben, that’s pretty fantastic. I see these things on the mystical level.
And now, I’m only one degree away from Claudia Jennings, and have removed any separation between me and one more of the things I love: ‘Gator Bait. That’s important. I remember reading about all the people who sought out and befriended or went to see the great old American Roots musicians (all dead now) and I felt sad that I missed those opportunities, I wonder if the people who knew those musicians knew how significant it was that they got to have real in-the-now experiences with artists like Dock Boggs, Woody Guthrie, The Carter Family (who my grandfather said he knew), among others. As for me, at least I can say that I got to meet, talk to, and even befriend some of the men and women who worked on Exploitation films, and I am grateful that I do not let those opportunities pass, and more importantly, that sometimes I make those opportunities. Those films are an important part of my life, and of course, an important part of the world of cinema. And sadly the men and women who worked in Exploitation are aging, so it is ever the more important that we connect while we can.
As it is, I am delighted, buzzing, thankful, and hoping that I can not only arrange something for my students, but more importantly, pass along to them how important it is to reach out to the people who create the work they love. It not only brings the art and artists (filmmakers, musicians, whatever) closer, not only does it open the doors to the opportunity to learn from their heroes, and not only does it make the work of their influences a real and tangible part of their lives, but perhaps it presents the opportunity for a little mentorship, and mentorship is a powerful and magical thing.
What a magical evening! I will sleep smiling, and probably singing the theme song to ‘Gator Bait.
By the way, ‘Gator Bait is now available on DVD!