reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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bullied. as a woman. [flawed wednesday]

“never be bullied into silence. never allow yourself to be made a victim. accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” (harvey fierstein)

“to thine own self be true,” my sweet momma would say. she and harvey fierstein would have been pals. heck, i should be pals with harvey.

there is a cost. we all know that. coloring outside the lines requires sisu, gumption, chutzpah. speaking up, speaking out, speaking for, speaking against. a cost.

like you, i have been bullied into silence in my life. i have been harassed and i have been victimized. i have been liquified and poured into molds that don’t fit. i have been vaporized. i have allowed it. i have not allowed it.

i am a woman. and with that comes bullying, harassment, victimization. with that come molds, generalizations, inequalities, assumptions.

i am not naive enough to believe that were i to be a man i would never face any of these crushing blows. but i do believe that i would have faced seriously fewer.

it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been sexually assaulted at an innocent 19. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that, in reporting the abuse of many underage young women, i would have my life threatened at 21. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been scarily pursued by a man-with-a-foot-fetish at 35. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been terrifyingly stalked at 50. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been verbally and professionally assailed at 60.

were i to be a man, the men who wielded the power in each of these might have tucked his superman cape away, might have had a second thought, might have played out his control-game-fantasy somewhere else.

but i am a woman. and, for some reason deeply embedded in society, that changes the rules and empowers the mongers.

i have been silent.

for too long.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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artists and bootstraps. [two artists tuesday]

the bootstraps are getting a good workout.

the flutter in my heart, my racing pulse, uneven breathing.

i tug at the bootstraps.

i don’t have a choice.

i am an artist. bootstraps come with the job. they are inherent. they are undeniable. they are a burden. they are a release. they are imperative.

we cannot hide from the here and now. we cannot hide from the truth, be it light and airy, be it ugly and heavy. we speak to now; we help provide access to truth, to raw emotion, to the basic fundamental sameness – and yet individuality – of humans. to where the rubber meets the road.

we pull up the bootstraps and take a deep breath.

we dive in.

“just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” the infamous tagline from the box office movie hit “jaws”. we are shocked by the cold water, the lurking sharks, a symbiotic ocean with underlying danger. we muster on.

the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance gently ease us all into a place of rest, of reassurance. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance prod us all out of a place of mediocrity, past complacency, past laissez-faire. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance urge us into thought, into action, revitalize our fire. this is the job of an artist.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the curtains part. i walk to the apron, bow my gratitude, take the bench. hands on the keys, boom mic inches from me, i begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes and the score in my hands. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the musicians take their places. i walk to the front, sweep across the singers and accompanying instrumentalists with eye contact, appreciation and love, stand in front of the piano. hands on the keys, all at the ready, we begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. i pace. i glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. i stand in my boots. i walk to the front, bow my gratitude, nod to the empty bench. hands trembling, no microphone, i am escorted out the exit.

i pull up my bootstraps.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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like pond scum. [merely-a-thought monday]

“one thing i can’t comprehend is how hungry people are to consume lies.”

disconcerting?

while i’d love to say that this – “how hungry people are to consume lies” – is merely disconcerting, it wouldn’t begin to express how shocking this is. people in this country are, seemingly, not just hungry to consume lies. they are ravenous to consume lies.

i suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. it is the basis upon which the national enquirer and other such tabloids are sold in vast quantity. it is the in-line-at-the-grocery-store appeal of juicy gossip, falsehoods, lies and machinations of true stories. people soak it up. having no desire to see doctored photos or absurd stories i have never once purchased any of these.

the last four years, especially, have proven, time and again, that this country is full of sponges. in my mind’s eye, devotees to the current president sit at the ready, next to a scummy pond, thirsty. the wind blows a slight breeze across the surface and the green water ripples. the populace alerts to the movement of pond scum and, like chore boys fresh out of the package, suck up the mindless babble, the intentional lies, the aggrandizing rhetoric, the dangerous narrative. never does it occur to them to fact-check, for the pond scum has clearly clogged the arteries to their brains and they are too lazy to question what they are hearing. instead, they jump-jump-jump on the dyin’-to-be-lyin’-also bandwagon and ramp it up, full steam ahead. and the rest of us stand back and are astonished, yet again, over and over, at their hook-line-and-sinker devotion to something so nasty and self-serving.

it comes as no surprise then, most especially since the current president has advertised his malintent for months now, that these people-of-the-populace have gathered onto the fraudulent-election-wagon. they have soaked up the scummy messaging and have made it their own; conscience, nonetheless truth, has not entered the equation. their unmasked fervor is making them each big fish in little ponds; their words are reverberating in minds lacking of questions, devoid of analysis.

what is gained by the re-telling of lies? what is the endgame of this fantasy, this dive into psychosis? what is the point of this mean-spirited, predatory piranha of the truth?

perhaps it is of solace to them that their pond scum, a living organism, is good fertilizer and can be used to add important nutrients into, say, compost.

much like manure.

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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worried. [k.s. friday]

bridge box

i am worried.

in a tenuous time of fraying loyalties and the aggressive recruiting of followers, people are being indoctrinated into what they believe are the-cool-groups, welcomed with open arms, social-media “love-bombed” and, it would seem, encouraged to believe that which has not been proven to be true.

indoctrination (noun):  the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

uncritically.  terrifying.  without critical thought.  without mining for facts.  acolytes of persons who gaslight, persons who claim absolute knowledge and power, persons who, like the scum on a glass of sour milk, rise from the acidification of true idealism, true tenets, the true basis of a society as a community.

i am worried.

the bridge between us as a country seems as crumbling as the infrastructure of old roads and bridges across this nation.  the fragile bridge sways now in the gentlest of breezes.  the bricks, mortar, concrete, steel are wearing thin, their veneers weathering storms of severed ties, storms of conspiracy over fact, storms of cronyism over love.  the bridge-slayers taunt, tempt with poison fruit, the oldest story of stories.  the ideologue-apostles forego conversation for testaments of belonging, baseless creeds.  the indoctrination devours relationships, forming unions useful only to itself, without heed to emotional ties or history.  crazed, yet measured, words of untruth and hatred blur clear vision to the other side.

the bridge ceases to exist.  it becomes but a shadow.

and i am worried.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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BRIDGE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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and not to be silent. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there comes a time when silence

silence is not always golden.

in a country deeply divided by narrative, the decision between silence and speech presents a challenge.  subjected to judgement and the possibility of being harangued, speaking words, speaking truth, is a choice-point.

this is a time of massive misinformation, a time of gullibility, a time of digging in heels, a time of excuse-making, a time of circling bandwagons.  to pass by one who opines misinformation is to be complicit.  to be silent around falsehoods is to be complicit.  to not speak to inequity, to not address moral or ethical failures, to not stand up against prejudice and bigotry is to be complicit.  to fail to engage against injustice, to not protect the truth, to rabidly push narratives of lies, is perfidy.  to stand silently by is perilous.  yes.  there does come a time when silence is betrayal.

it would seem that two people or two groups of people, no matter how disparate, should be able to have a conversation.  it would seem that they should be able to maturely debate, using factual information, issues that are at hand.  it would seem that they should be able to respect each other, use discretion, and, without the betrayal of silence or anger, come to a place where ideas shared might move them closer together in understanding and mutual goals.  it would seem that there is a bigger picture.

it would seem that unity might be the utmost goal, the endzone, the heavily-weighted bottom half of the pyramid of needs.  it would seem in a country that its people would want to be unified in its most basic desires, its most basic values, its most basic tenets.  it would seem that for a society to survive it must gather its people and its resources together to achieve any sort of illumination or actualization.

but relationship and conversation and unity cannot be achieved in silence.  for silence-personified invites assumptions.  silence-personified instills distrust.  silence-personified creates chasms out of dividing lines.  silence-personified shatters relationships.  silence-personified builds walls of resentment, houses impervious to healing or conversation, learning or compromise.  silence-personified is dangerous and paralyzing.

for those who speak the truth despite the pain of vulnerability, despite the vast line in the sand, regardless of any tribal politics and with much courage, we glean there is a way to survival, there is a way out of the polarization.

but time is of the essence.  it is none too soon to start.  to speak.  and not to be silent.

“when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  you have to say something.  you have to do something.”  (john lewis)

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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a shred of hope. [k.s. friday]

a shred of hope box

to write on-the-fly requires a certain letting-go.  one cannot be too exacting.  there is always another note, another rest, another phrase, another measure.  always a chance to iron out the details, clean up the rough, rake the sandy grit.  composing improvisationally is stepping into not-knowing and following threads that show up.  because, instrumentally, i am typically an it’s-a-song-without-words writer, i listen and hang on to where the thread brought me, seizing it to wrap back to themes stated, to gestures implied.  the starting gate is full of imagery or word-phrases, emotions to elicit.  a shred of hope rose up in front of me today and this time, in an effort to not push back against hope, i answered.  the call and response to a scintilla of hope spoke in glimmers of 1 minute 42 seconds.

yesterday was an historic day.  after days, months, years, decades of not really speaking up, i found myself speaking.  processing the balance of liability-seesaws, i wondered why i hadn’t spoken aloud about things that were not ok, things that were clearly unfair, inequitable, people who were aggressive, people who were passive-aggressive, those who were destructive, those who undermined, those who did not help.  i felt the confines of the wrapping-which-kept-me-quiet and pulled tightly across my heart drop ever so slightly away, fibers draping and drifting. voice, a deep breath, a little lighter.  a beginning.  a shred of hope.

wednesday was an historic day.  we gathered together online again, ukuleles and singers. and yesterday i read a post from one of the young women there, “when you play music in a group where the ages range from 31 to 94 you always feel blessed.”  community.  shared.  a place of i-love-you-love-me.  a shred of hope.

tuesday was an historic day.  a brilliant woman of afro-indian descent was chosen as the vice-presidential running mate of the democratic party’s candidate.  oh, where we have finally come, where we will finally go.  a shred of hope.

monday was an historic day.  the derecho roared by.  our tall old trees were spared.  this time the rain did not pour in by the air conditioner.  the dog and the cat shared the basement with us until the tornado warning expired.  we sipped wine and rocked in rocking chairs, listening to the sound of the wind and rain above us.  our little space in the world was safe.  a shred of hope.

the prayer flags shred in the wind, sending prayers off into the universe.  bits and pieces fall to the ground or fly off in the breeze.  a perfect heart landed on our deck.  a shred of hope.

it all doesn’t change the lost-ness of last friday’s on-the-fly.   we have much to weave back together and so much to let go in this broken narrative, a tapestry of individuals, families, cities, states, a country, a world in pain.

but there is a shred of hope.

if you would like to listen to more of my music, i would ask you to please download it here on iTunes instead of streaming it. it’s how i make a living. every download counts.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

kindly consider following this blog while facebook navigates its way to restoring my blog to its platform.  thank you so much.

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©️ 2020 kerri sherwood

 


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#maskenvy2020 [merely-a-thought monday]

i like your mask copy

i was trying to catch up my calendar – the dollar version – where i write things we’ve done, thoughts, ideas, hikes.  on new year’s day i usually take out the calendar and read the whole thing, a review of the year, so to speak.  post-broken-wrists, not being able to write with my right hand, i kept my calendar on the computer.  somewhere along the way i stopped jotting things down.

now, with pencil in hand, i am trying to catch up.  not only is that impossible, but it’s shocking to see the story-arc of the year.  time flies.  it occurred to me this morning that on new year’s day 2021 i will likely look back and see a year with a vast there-wasn’t-much-we-could-do theme.  it’s consistent.  the pandemic has altered the freedom of moving-at-will, the freedom of easily-gathering-together, the freedom of travel, of ranging around, and any real normal-summer adventures.  a time that, painfully, just isn’t the same as all other summers.  it doesn’t feel the same; it doesn’t look the same.  it doesn’t live the same way.  the impotent months, a time of self-sacrifice-for-the-whole, would seem like a common story for all.

only it’s not.

“i like your mask,” commented the cashier at the home improvement store.  things you never thought you would hear.  our masks are all handsewn; a variety of fabrics, after washing they hang on a hook on the refrigerator, ready.  her mask was solid black and so i, in we-wear-black-all-the-time predictability, actually liked hers.  “what am i doing?” i wondered.  we are comparing masks.  MASKS.  surely this will go down as a 2020 commonality for people.

only it won’t.

with windows open allowing in the moist rain-cooled air of the night, over coffee this morning we talked about common narratives.  it would seem that, of all years, of all times past and, hopefully, times to come, this year would have the most common narrative for all people.  parallel experiences, somewhat indistinguishable in the limitations of a global pandemic, a time of everyone-coming-together, a time of doing-the-right-thing, a time of protecting-each-other, a time of relinquishing selfishness and adopting consideration, even altruism, a time of caring.  to everything there is a season.  a season of commonality.

only that’s not the case.

instead, any perusal through social media will show you that summer is summer and americans are out and about.  according to AAA, nearly 700 million people will take roadtrips this summer.  they are vacationing.  photographs of smiling faces in parks, at beaches, on docks, in boats, by pools, at picnic tables, at parties, in backyards, in restaurants, around campfires – maskless.  the weighing of calculated risk, the weighing of safety.  hopefully, this will not yield drastic results as we each live our lives – the lack of forfeit a contributing factor to more sickness, more proliferation of virus, more death.

we can only hope.

so is it different?   is this summer any different for you than last?  or is it pretty much the same?  what mask are you wearing when you are out and about?  is it all black?  (if so, would you recommend it?  what company did you order it from?) is it fabric?  is it an n95?

or is it invisible?  instead, a mask of indifference, a mask of push-back, a mask of conspiracy theory, a mask of you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do, a mask of entitlement, a mask of deservedness, a mask of personal-freedom-infringement, a mask of determined independence in a world where actually-everyone-depends-on-the-symbiotic-sharing-and-movement-of-resources, where actually-everyone-desperately-relies-on-healthcare-workers-who-are-watching-people-scorn-that-which-might-help, where actually-everyone-depends-on-each-other-to-get-this-pandemic-under-control-so-that-some-stability-of-life-and-work-and-school-and-economic-security-and-good-health-might-resume.  is it a mask of apathy?

masks. we all wear them.  not just this summer.  people-masks are situational, circumstantial.  masks often depend on who we are with; the narratives we state often depend on who is near.  it’s human.  consistent inconsistency.

it makes me wonder.  in this very human-ness, in this time and any other, if, standing at the checkout at the store, all masks of truth were visible, all narratives open for critique, would the cashier say, “i like your mask”?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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paintings are like that. [d.r. thursday]

see an owl with frame copy

K.DOT & D.DOT SEE AN OWL mixed media 24″ x 48″

as you know, we are two artists living together.  so everything around our house has meaning of some sort.  each rock, each piece of wood, each feather, each vintage suitcase, each peace sign, each wooden box, each old window frame, each peeling screen door, each painting.  before david’s paintings also found their way onto the walls, there were several paintings i had painted.  well, “painted”.  i spattered and brushed black and white paint to the beating of my heart onto large canvases until i knew the paintings were done and then hung them up.  they each have a story – a heart narrative that might not be obvious to you, but is something i can feel each time i look at each of these paintings.

david’s work is stunning.  although some of them are for sale, we have pieces of his displayed on our walls – stories on canvas, we have chosen to hang paintings that tell part of our story together.  you never get tired of looking at something that is a piece of your life, a canvas of an intimate moment here or there.  K.DOT & D.DOT SEE AN OWL is one of those.  it’s an exquisite collection of color and movement and reaching.  in our story, it is about seeing an owl in the big old pine tree in our backyard.  on your wall, it could be about any moment in your life that you and your beloved looked forward, pointing into the future, embracing it, excitedly sharing together something inordinately full of meaning and just yours.  paintings are like that.

click here to view this painting on david’s online gallery

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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K.DOT & D.DOT SEE AN OWL ©️ 2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood