Archive for the ‘Negativity’ Category


It’s kind of funny. After every recent post, wordpress sends me a a message giving me tips on how to increase my readership. Oh, whatever. Yes, I know that my readership is scant. The ego in me that listens to popular opinion does care about public opinion. The other fluctuating 70% could care less.

So, what have I been up to? I have taken a leave of absence from my PhD program. I am 43 years old. I have lived all over the world and have given my heart to my social justice focused work. I have been the director of a program that many feminists give money to without even questioning.  And yet, within my program and university I cannot find an assistantship.

Last spring, when I was at my lowest, a dear friend of mine encouraged me to apply for a part time bilingual position where she worked. If it wasn’t for the deep respect that I have for her, I probably wouldn’t have. But, I am glad that I did. For the record, people who are actually doing social justice work get more points in my book than those that merely talk about it.

Not that I do not still struggle and wonder what my next step will be. I do truly wish that I could be working on my Ph.D.  Perhaps I will, but at this point, I hold little hope. I am open to suggestions.

Honestly, all that I want to do after a hard day of trying to ensure housing for someone is journal, make mail art, and cook yummy meals for my female sweetheart. I haven’t even been going to my community’s recent progressive demonstrations even though I believe in them.

As two people that I care about recently said: “I do community service all day. That’s all that I can do. After my eight hours, all I want to do is retreat.”

I have summarized their words in my own, but I doubt that they would disagree.

I have also been working through my feelings. It may take me a year to work through what happened to me in six months.

My collages are moments in this process.

Excerpts from my first brown paper bag book:

Two art journal pages:

Thank you to Michael Franti for his help through this process.


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Last night I went to see Santana with Michael Franti and Spearhead opening. It was a special occasion. E paid for our tickets and her parents came as well. Our tickets were $95 each! It took me awhile to stop brooding about the cost and how it made the music inaccessible to so many.

I think that it was “Corazon Espinado” that finally got me dancing. I didn’t realize that song was a joint Maná and Santana endeavor. I know, I’m a bit out of it.

So out of it, in fact, that it wasn’t until this morning that I thoroughly appreciated Michael Franti and Spearhead.

This song, “Hey World (Don’t Give Up)” appeals to me because it combines seriousness and hope, satisfying the social worker side of me who sees and hears too much with my desire to find a way to be positive. They did not play it last night.


Why is it that I haven’t listened to them before? E says I have. Evidently, I need to open my ears up a bit more than I do.


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I’ve been making less postcards and journaling more. It gives me an opportunity to explore different techniques without having to have a finished product that is “mailable.” I haven’t had many journaling or generally making days in awhile. Tomorrow will be an opportunity. I will hopefully make the best of it.

I made this page a few weeks ago.

The stacked rocks are a common sight on hikes here in this area. The first time I saw stacked rocks was in Austin, TX. But they are regular occurrences on hikes and nature walks here in Spokane.

This page has another significance. It was my last bike ride on my red bike with the plastic green basket. My dear friend S. and I biked at least 35 miles along the Spokane river. I came home, locked my bike up in the backyard, went on my trip to Yakima, and when I came back my bike and my partner’s were stolen.

Rather disconcerting having someone come into your private backyard space. They came prepared with lock cutters which means a previous reconnaissance mission.


Sorry for the harsh language.

I went to a really cool DIY bike shop in town and bought a new used bike. I put the pedals on myself. I needed mine to commute to work and did not want to wait but we’ve been talking about taking the time to make my partner E’s bike ourselves. I’d like to. My brief pedal replacement was humbling and fun.

I hate the idea that someone is roaming around our backyard uninvited. E’s been freaking out replacing locks in the house.

I’m a social worker for goodness sakes. I could have very likely talked to the thieves on the phone and gone out of my way to help them.

People tell me it is the bad economy. Others say it is because youth have nothing to do over the summer. I just think of the reasons why someone would feel the need to steal two bikes that together, were probably not worth one hundred dollars. A meal? A hit? A short moment of fun? And being me, I think of those who are currently making many thousands, millions, and even billions over one hundred dollars, that small yet increasing percentile who are living beyond anyone’s yet imaginable material expectations.

The gap between those who have and those who don’t is deeper than it has ever been. It is those of you who live with so much more than you need, more than the one time hit seeker who stole our bikes, that I blame for the loss of my cheap but well loved bike.

To you I yell out an even huger:


Note: I edited out the expletives. I was a bit angry last night. I still am but I decided to rid my post of expletives.

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I’m crabby. It’s December 19 and I thought that I would be done with school by now. But instead I took an incomplete to finish up two assignments: a final paper and 13 key concepts in social theory. I have a rough draft of the paper and know where I am going with it. I’m just trying to finish up those blasted concepts. They are dragging.

I haven’t made a postcard or collage in forever and forget about holiday spirit. This about all that I have been able to produce in the way of holiday energy this year and some of it is a repeat from holidays past:

Our cloth wreath


Our recyclable tree with peace in many languages…


And our dear, wonderful Asha

Happy Holidays!

I am taking tomorrow off to make things and get into the holiday spirit d—–t!@@!!!


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trust the mess

I was struck with a pang of negative thoughts this weekend:

Your postcards are so unprofressional compared to other people’s “mail art.”

You are not an artist. You don’t even know how to use paint. “Real mail” art uses paint.

Your edges are ragged and sometimes you smudge your ink.

Your collages are simplistic. All you use is garbage.

There were many more, but these are a good sampling. The only reason that I am even devoting time to discussing my negative thoughts is because they weren’t even supposed to happen during my postcard making. This was supposed to be my way to unwind after working at a domestic violence and rape crisis center for the past year and to free up my head with visuals and my hands with texture before four or five years of heavy intellectual reading and writing.

I am very self-critical in my day to day life. The point was that I would have a space away from this where I didn’t care if I got into school, got a job, made an A, or got something published. This was supposed to be fun with no criticism allowed. It seeped in and I am mentioning it because I know that I am not alone. Plus, the self-criticism that we humans can put on ourselves is just BS. It slows us down, actually.

I think of the art that I am most drawn to and it is raw and often messy. It says how the maker is feeling, it experiments with materials, and most of all shows that the maker was not afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes this art is made by professional artists and sometimes not. “EL GRIT,”  a reaction to the destruction of the Gulf Coast by BP sent to me by a friend, is an example of something raw that was not created by a professional artist but as far as I am concerned is extremely powerful. I posted it here, but am reposting it because I want to look at it again.


I went digging for Sabrina Ward Harrison’s “The True and the Questions.”

Trust the mess, she says. Art isn’t meant to be pretty. It is meant to evoke. […] Trust yourself. Leave ripples.

I know she got this from somewhere but haven’t found where yet. Mary Oliver, perhaps? I even pulled out a list of quotes that my friend Goyo compiled when we were both human rights accompaniers in Guatemala and couldn’t find the reference. No matter. She is right. I, you, we need to “trust the mess.” And in so doing, it would be nice to “leave ripples.”

I have to send three postcards with quotes out to people via one of my many exchanges and so if you find any quotes that deal with mess and risk would you please send them to me? Pretty please???

He he. I have managed to get myself out of a rut through inspirational action. May this help any readers of this blog out of any negative thoughts that they are embroiled in too!

paz y solidaridad,

mad madge

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I am feeling a tad self-conscious. I have been totally out there with my new found love of postcards and mail art and sent a few postcards out to members of the International Union of Mail-Artists. The Union is made up of people from all over the world and I have had the opportunity to use a bit of my Spanish and French in the process. Some members are new to mail art but others have been doing it for years. Some of their work is totally amazing. You can tell that they have really developed their craft as opposed to me who is doing this as a fun form of mind cleaning before I start my Ph.D. in August. Can you hear the negative thoughts? I am trying to keep them at a minimum, but they do appear upon occasion. Obviously, they weren’t activated when I sent my portrait off to Mail-Artist Selfportraits. Or when I sent a few postcards out to seasoned mail-artists.

This one that I sent to Cindy Wills appeared on the International Union of Mail Artist main page.

Then, I found this one that I sent on Mailarta’s blog.

I need to follow my own advice to have fun and not be worried whether or not my work is amazing. It’s the perfectionist in me. What is perfection anyway?

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