“Where do you find all this stuff?”

Number two question I get asked at shows. The answers, in order of preference, are:

Flea markets! I love me a flea. It’s the best of all possible junking solutions. It’s not necessarily the cheapest, but here’s why that’s ok. I could spend my every weekend going to all the estate sales in my area in order to acquire for the least possible dollar amount maaaaybe trunkfull of items I might be interested in, or I could let the pickers do it for me, hit them all up in one spot, and pay their (usually) very small markup, which you can negotiate down anyway (you’re not being mean by haggling, pickers expect you to haggle and work it into their price structure because it’s all part of the game at a flea). I consider it a convenience fee and I’m happy to pay it, because I’ll spend less in gas and time, and come out ahead overall. It’s the same reason I’ll go to “hip” second hand stores. Because they’ve done all the legwork of going to every single Goodwill in the city and dug through the piles of polyester and whatnot, to find the cool stuff for me. The prices aren’t that much higher and I only have to go to one place. Plus, some pickers do it for a living, but some do it because they’re born scavengers and it’s a compulsion not unlike popping bubble wrap, and there are enough of those just trying to make back what they spent that you’re gonna get it so cheap it’s practically dumpster diving. They’re in it for the love of the hunt. I can relate.

Estate sales! When someone dies and their family (or whoever, if they have none) doesn’t want to deal with cleaning out their house, they hire a company to catalogue, price and sell everything. Estate sales usually happen Fridays through Sundays. On Friday, you’ll get the best selection of stuff, but the prices are way higher. These companies work on commission, so they’re motivated to get top dollar. On Friday they won’t haggle with you and they won’t give you a bundle deal. On Sunday however, they absolutely will, because it’s their last chance to make any money. On the last day of the estate sale, prices are usually down by 50-75%, they’ll take less, and they’ll bundle. The down side is you’re usually picking through dregs because all that’s left is the stuff that’s on its way to Goodwill or the dumpster. If you’re an artist, this doesn’t matter too much. If you’re a picker, this is not your day.

Yard sales, Goodwill, etc! You can find some awesome junk at these places. They’re my least favorite because you usually have to hit up many, MANY of them before you get anything like a worthwhile trip out of the adventure. The exception is church rummage sales. Like a flea, there are multiple contributors to the overall junk selection, but because it’s basically 30 households or so having a yard sale in the same place, the prices are low. Downside is it’s mostly kid stuff. Which, if you have a kid is great, but if you have an art project is a bit limited.

Lastly, because it’s an opportunistic act rather than something I do because I need junk for art, is dumpster diving! I don’t dive on the regular. It’s more of a magpie thing. If I happen to see shiny I investigate. Now at a flea market, don’t be too proud! There’s great shit in those dumpsters (stay AWAY from the ones near the food vendors though). I’ve found doll heads and vintage books all for the bargain price of free because someone decided there was no money to be made with them and chucked ’em (pro tip: the pickers at the flea check the dumpsters too, and many have admitted to putting what they find on their own tables and selling it). But mostly I just keep my eyes open on trash day because you never know. One day I was walking the dog and found two child sized chairs sitting in the alley. Good quality ones, too. If you’re following me on the Facebooks, you’ve seen what they turned into. I’ve found an old chippy, peely cabinet, antlers off a 6 point buck that are at least 50 years old, anatomy and neurology text books from the 60s, broken dolls and various and sundry awesome rusty shit, all in my tiny neck of the woods. A friend in New Orleans once found a huge, hand made Indonesian mask! People throw out the damndest things, so don’t let those opportunities pass you by.

So, that’s where I find all this stuff. Any other junk lovers out there are welcome to hit me up if you want someone to go junking with. I go to Grayslake just about monthly, and I’m always up for company. Just don’t mind the weirdo caressing an old, rusty piece of farm equipment or a half decomposed accordion, mumbling “My preciousssssss”. That weirdo is me.

New Chapter

Whelp, it’s a new year, so it’s time for new business.
Ladies and gents, it is with some regret that I announce that next summer I will not be at Bristol Renaissance Faire. Instead, I will be going full Monty (NAKED ART! RAWR!) with this suckah and applying to a number of summer shows that I have until now been passing up in order to stick with my very only ren faire.

I first did Bristol when I was a wee sixteen years old.

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IKNOWRITE??

It was my gateway drug. To art. To culture. To adult content.
To freedom, really. Both intellectual and literal. I am who I am because I ran away with that circus and I have not a single regret.

For those of you who don’t know, I used to do this full time. Nine months a year for ten years of my life, this was my job. I worked for two master leather crafters for most of that time, had many adventures of all sorts and I miss the crap out of it.
Getting off the road was a different adventure. I wanted to try college and living in the city that jammed loving hooks into the meat of my heart the first time I laid eyes on it, so I moved to New Orleans for a few years.
College didn’t agree with me, and even though New Orleans is absolutely and deeply embedded in my soul, I chose to move back to Chicago for a multitude of reasons, financial, familial and personal.
It was supposed to be a way station only. I wanted to get back on the road. Back to the movement of the caravan, chasing the warm weather all over the country like a kid chasing the ice cream truck.
I was supposed to stop, get my bearings, load my truck and fly.
Not what the universe had in mind though.
My beloved companion animal was diagnosed with cancer and required frequent and expensive treatment (yeah, I’m one of those pet owners who is crazy attached to their dog), and my dad came out of his second bone marrow transplant induced remission, with no further transplants possible because of his age.
So yeah. That happened.
And I needed to do something besides work for a crazy screen printing lady (quitting that job comes in at 5 in the list of top five best things I’ve ever done) and worry. That’s how I started this business. No training, no money, no freakin’ clue what the hell I was doing.
Just desperate to move my hands and engage my mind with something besides two family members on chemo (dogs are so family members) and missing my nomadic life.
But I always had one toe left in the rennie waters, and that was Bristol.

So maybe you can guess how weird it is that this year will be the first time in more than twenty years that I won’t be doing any kind of faire.
I won’t lie, it’s messing with me.
But summer is art-show-palooza and if I’m doing this for a living I’ve got to jump in fo’ realz.
So, I’m doin’ it.

When I got off the road, a wonderful fellow named Al Craig, who was the crafts coordinator at Scarborough, said something to me as I was checking out. I remember exactly what he said, “You’ll be back. You’ll take 8 years, maybe 10 years, do whatever it is you’re going to do, and then you’ll be back. Some people just pass through on their way somewhere else. But you’re a lifer, girl. This is your home.”
Eight years since he said that I still believe he was dead on.
I’ll find a way to incorporate traveling and ren faire back into my world someday.
But this day is the time to pour all my energy into growing my fledgling business into something that can fly.

Wazzap?

I’m sure there are those of you who are all, “Wtf is As the Crow Flies Studio lately?”.
Shhhh, don’t mess with my delusion. I prefer to think you all love the hell outta my posts and the lack of them keeps you up at night. Validation, dammit!
Anyway.

I’m normally such an obsessive poster because FB is a douche canoe and I figure if I post all of the things, more of the people who have liked my page will actually see them. It’s a business page, so people seeing my bidness is pretty much the point.
I could be wrong, but short of hacking FB (May I request that? I mean, with all the hacking going on, surely someone with the skills is done enough with FBs jackassery to do it?), that’s my best plan.

But it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Shows! Art classes! Funerals!

Sadly yes, that last one is true. My mom’s best friend died suddenly last month and left her as the executor of her estate, so I’ve been as busy being helpful to her in whatever capacity she needs as anything else. I’ve learned valuable lessons from this. It’s enormously complicated to die in this country, and you should leave freakishly detailed instructions to your executor/family members, if you possibly can. Write a will. A looong and precise one, and update it periodically.
Consider giving someone power of attorney, just in case. We actually had to argue with the medical examiner because the deceased had no known family, and they were afraid if they released the body without power of attorney (which, according to the lawyer, ends with death, but they insisted on it anyway) some random unknown relative would come suing over the disposition of the remains at some later date. The funeral home had to get its legal department to draft a waiver exempting the medical examiners office of liability if that should happen, before they would turn over the deceased to my mother, who had her copy of the will naming her as executor, which is all she legally needed in the first place.
Also? Don’t hoard. Your survivors will have to figure out what to do with your stuff and that sucks because it’s emotional to have to sort through and dispose of the possessions of someone you cared about. So don’t have a bunch of extra shit lying around to make it harder for them.
The one upshot, weirdly, was the memorial. The departed was a very sassy old lady and sassy old ladies tend to have fun people in their lives who will eulogize them in hilariously touching ways.
So, yeah. That happened.

But, shows!
Red Door was down profit-wise from last year, but otherwise just as lovely an event. I blame the weather. Despite the almost constant presence of it in the Midwest (particularly along the shores of a large body of water), it continues to stump people. Chicagoans won’t leave the house if anything is falling out of the sky. And it was, so they didn’t. But the dip in fortunes was slight, and since I got such a positive reception and the organizers were, as before, really communicative and great to work with, I had a fine time anyway and look forward to next year. Even a great dane peeing on my display could not dampen my day. No, nothing was damaged, thank FSM, though his owner was kind of a jerk about it. Such is life. If that’s the worst thing that happens at a show in the coming year, I’m calling it a win.

And next up of course is Shop Jarvis Square, this coming Saturday in Rogers Park. Buncha bars, buncha artists, buncha bloody mary’s and a whole lotta awesome. I’ll be in R Public House, the first one in line coming from the train station. Dave will be there with lamps both new and funky and we’ll both be merry and bright because cocktails. Come out. Even if there’s stuff falling out of the sky. There’s a raffle! And discounts! And beer!

Lastly but hardly leastly (shut up spellcheck, you don’t think “thusly” is a word either so I don’t trust your squiggly red line anymore), art classes!
I’ve posted about my collage and assemblage classes with Lynn Whipple, my new favorite art doula. Now I’m taking something called a “Junk Book” class with Carla Sonheim, whose deal this is all been going through. Her hubs makes the videos and they live on her site. Mixed media, collage, watercolor, acrylic. I’m not sure there’s anything she doesn’t do.
I met her at one of the shows mah boo and I reconned in the spring and signed up for her mailing list because I liked her work so much. Best thing I’ve done in a long time, as it has turned out.
The class involves repurposing junk mail into an art book. Hence, junk book. There is drawing and painting with watercolors, neither of which I even kind of know how to do. Franken-junk is my jam. But what fun would life be if we never challenged ourselves? Hmmm? Besides, it’s important not to decide you suck at something until you’ve actually tried it. And then if it’s fun you can keep going, sucking at it notwithstanding. Sometimes you stop sucking with practice, and sometimes you don’t, but the bit about fun is the important bit.
The finished product should theoretically end up looking like so.

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Mine doesn’t yet, but I’m only 3 lessons in out of 6, so we’ll have to see.

These classes, btw, are available to all, online, for a way reasonable rate. They’re mostly short, one or two week deals that take you through a project and give you the tools to expand on your own from there. Go to http://www.carlasonheim.com/ and check out what’s available. Classes in all manner of art things, free tutorials, and ongoing contact with your classmates and the teachers through a given class’s FB and Flikr pages. It’s better than college if you ask me. But I don’t like mornings, or student loans. And there you go.

So that’s what’s up, y’all. I hope everybody has a good Whatever Holiday You Celebrate, or a good time ignoring them altogether.

Like a freakin’ diamond

So I’m at the gym the other day. Coach likes music in da house, and when his computer goes on the fritz, he asks who’s got a ‘Pod. This time it was me that had one, so I put in my “music to hit things to” playlist.
It’s a heavy industrial music playlist. Because when I’m hitting things I like a nice, driving bass beat and some aggressive music. So we’re talking bands like KMFDM, Suicide Commando, BiGod 20, God Module, Wumpscut, Nitzer Ebb, Cubinate. You get the idea. I like to dance to these guys too. And if you can dance to it, you can fight to it. Or at least that’s been my experience.

This one guy is all, “Dang, this is some, uh, angry music”. And I say, well, it’s for training to, so it’s supposed to be aggressive. And he says, “Heh, so what do you relax to?”
My answer, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
“I’ve never heard of that”
“He’s a Qawwali singer, it’s Sufi devotional music.”
“Sufi…?”
“They’re Muslims. It’s like their gospel music.”
“Oh, well I’m not Muslim so I’ve never heard of that.”
“Neither am I. By that logic, being an Atheist, I shouldn’t know what gospel music is either, but I’m a huge Mahalia Jackson fan. The universe is a strange and mysterious place, innit.”

The point? Art is for everyone, irrespective of religion, background, ethnicity, class, or what have you. Anyone who says otherwise is deeply misled. So cultivate more than one dimension for the love of FSM.
Art and beauty are not confined to single segments of the population. And if you think they are, you’re missing out on a boat load of experience that could make your life that much more amazing.
I love goth/industrial music. It’s great to train (and move it move it) to. I also love Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald on a rainy day, Tom Waits at night when I’m drinking whiskey, Jeff Buckley when I’m feeling maudlin, Vivaldi when I’m working, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis when it’s hot and steamy, Opera ALL THE DAMN TIME, 80s pop when I’m in a good mood, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Eliades Ochoa when I’m driving, The Cure when I’m depressed, Nusrat or a nice long Indian raga when my brain needs a reset, and random crazy shit like the Tiger Lillies and Pine Box Boys because who doesn’t love neuveau vaudeville/old timey music?

I don’t know anyone who just listens to top 40, do you?
The moral of this story is, go out into the world and look. Experience things you’ve never heard of. Try things you think you won’t like. Follow YouTube suggestions down the rabbit hole and see where you end up. Pick the weirdest sounding food at the most foreign sounding restaurant and eat it (Mine was balut, it’s Filipino, and I’m never doing that again, but the point was to have the experience.). Go see bands whose descriptions contain words such as “avant garde” and “experimental”. Go see art you wouldn’t normally get in to. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Talk to artists, homeless people, bar tenders, street sweepers, priests, cab drivers, the bag person at your grocery store. Everyone has a story.
Develop multiple dimensions. Don’t just sit in your societal box and stagnate. Don’t be a paper doll. Your life will be so much more worth living.

Now go and listen to some Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sufis know how to jam.

The voodoo that Boo do

Ermahgerd, we had such an incredible weekend.
Fall Art Tour is always a good time for us, but this year was extra saucy with awesome.
We got to hang out with so many lovely people, and splurged on a boatload of art. Not something we normally allow ourselves, being on severely restricted budgets (he’s a student, I’m an on call, very part time electrician’s assistant with a shady side business dealing in bones and glitter), but sometimes you’ve got to be ruthlessly self indulgent if you’re going to have a life worth living. Ya know?

We blew into town Friday and stopped at my favorite place for all things rusty and funky, Raven House (http://www.ravenhousebaraboo.blogspot.com, go!), to pick up a map of the participants and touch base with the fabulous proprietress, who also runs the Sunday Market I was going to be vending at while I was up there. From there we hit the studio of Maday, a quilter of epic talent whose work exceeds the standard idea of a quilt (http://freespiritsewing.com, go!). Her mixed media fiber creations are a story and an art and all around day-um fabulous. I’ve been drooling over her stuff on Facebook for months now, so when I heard she was to be part of the Fall Art Tour I got jazzed, and budgeted some dough for goodies.

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Then we hit Helen’s Daughters studio (http://www.helensdaughters.com, go!), makers of fine and unusual handbags, for a browse through their gorgeous garden, the various artisans housed in it (unbelievable jewelry, basket making, and batik), and a yack with Char and Mariella, the daughters of Helen, who make these incredible bags. I myself don’t have much occasion to use a fancy purse (more’s the pity, cuz they’re seriously awesome), but they also make extremely practical packs, pouches and other means for stuff holding. I got myself the perfect pouch for my street shows, with an adjustable strap so I can wear it over the shoulder or around my hips, and generous enough to fit my two strapping monkeys. Win.

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Our last stop on the local leg of the tour was the studio of an illustrator and puppeteer by the name of Anne Horjus, whose beautiful work can be found in the children’s book, Sleep, with writer Charles Anthony Silvestri (http://annehorjus.com, go!). He also does wood block prints and paintings, lives in an amazing old Victorian, and is a really nice guy with an awesome sense of humor. We had a great time there talking puppets, Jim Henson, and Labyrinth/ Dark Crystal, both of which, we all agreed, were the top puppet movies of all time.

After a meal at our favorite Little Village Cafe (really, it’s all about the pie), we headed to Con Amici wine bar to have a few glasses of delicious adult beverage, and get our caricatures drawn by local artist Ryan Biddle (http://biddleart.com, go!). Hey, it’s art tour weekend, you gotta support the arts. And also, silly and fun, which we’re all about.

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Adult beverages consumed, back to our Baraboo roost, WilloWood Inn (http://www.willowoodinn.com, go!) for Real Genius (Val Kilmer in the 80s, is there anything hotter?) and bed.

Saturday morning found us abed later than we had intended, but whatevs, vacation. Our first stop was back to Raven House to do a leetle shopping.

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Then we were off to Spring Green. The entire town was having a yard sale, lucky us, but what had caught our eye there were a pair of graphic artists. One, sadly, had bowed out to move to Colorado, but the other one, Kim Russel (http://www.russellworks.com, go!), was stationed at a local gallery. We spent a good half hour chatting with her, gushing over her work, and eventually deciding on which prints we wanted to take home. I have a thing for cranes, a critter I never clapped eyes on in the flesh till my 38th year, but now can’t get enough of.

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Taking off from Spring Green we drove though hills on fire with fall leaves, heading for Loganville and our next stop, The Bricolage, a huge farm at the end of a dead end road, which is the home, studio, and retreat of Don and Ali Kauss. She makes lovely silver jewelry and he does assemblage (http://www.kaussart.com, go!), and they both rent out spaces in barns and revamped chicken coops to visiting artists and people just looking to get away from everything. Mah boo wanted to talk bow hunting with him, but I just wanted to drool over his amazing assortment of skulls, bones, rusty junk and generally awesome stuff that he turns into creepy assemblage that I totally want all of. In mah house. Right now.

We only hit two studios because we wanted to be back at Con Amici for their Pinot and Picasso night. A thing in which they handed out hooch and art supplies to a bunch of willing folks, with an art teacher handy to offer guidance and keep a progressively drunker group on track, and let us try and make art. It. Was. Awesomely fun. I’ve never painted, mah boo has never art-ed at all, AND he’s colorblind. But we’re both more than willing to suck at something in the name of fun (watch me bowl sometime and you’ll see what I mean), so we were all, “Where do we sign up?”
A bottle or so of wine and a couple’a hours later, we had…tree like things!

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And a nice buzz. And a painting (no like, a real one), because our caricature artist from the night before is a hella good painter too and had one on the wall priced crazy low.
Ruthlessly self indulgent, remember? I don’t have a picture of this one. Because I suck. And it’s not in my house, it’s in my honey’s, so I can’t fix that.

So, Tank Girl (Lori Petty, droolz), bed, up at crack for Sunday Market.

Which happened to coincide with a Packers game, so not as populous as we would have liked, but still, a good time was had. I got pancakes and an accordion, and did all my produce shopping for the week to the tune of $4.50 (broccoli/kale hybrid is made of awesome. I’m not making this up.). I call it a win.
Hugs all around as we packed up the car and headed to our very last stop, back to the studio of Maday Delgado for some Cuban love (we laugh, we cry, we yell a lot) and a wonderful, touching parting giftie, which now lives in my room beside my bed, under three Buddhas, a Chinese dragon, Eleggua and Bastet. Which I think is completely appropriate.

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So that was my vacation. Woodland critter count for this trip includes two feeding red tailed hawks, six migrating sandhill cranes, and eight wild turkeys. And one partly skeletonized roadkilled deer, which of COURSE I forgot to pack rubber gloves and a cooler. Oh well, it’s not like there’s gonna be any bugs to clean it till spring. In other words, stinky.

We had a ball, as usual. Everyone was super happy to see us again (we’re getting pretty recognizable at this point, going up two or three times a year like we do), and made us feel like we were seeing old friends rather than being tourists. It was a much needed and welcome cap to a busy summer.

Custer Street: Highlights, lowdowns and wtfs

I seriously can’t recall a time when it rained on a Custer weekend. So of course Saturday we got evacuated by the fire department because it is monsoon season apparently. There was a flash flood. It was super duper.
Fortunately, beer.
And thank you, Evanston fire department. Y’all were really nice and super on top of our safety.

I totally freaked a lady out by saying “vagina”.
She asked what the significance of the cowrie shells on one of the nichos was. So I told her that in many traditions the cowrie symbolized femininity and fertility, because it resembles a vagina. She was all, “TMI!” So I said, “What’s TMI? Vagina?” and she goes, “Aak!” and I say, “What’s wrong with vagina?”
I swear I must have said “vagina” sixteen times, because I am really unskilled at realizing when I should shut up. She got much more uncomfortable before I noticed that my devil may care attitude towards “vagina” was wigging her out. I don’t know what I should have called it instead. What doesn’t upset people? Hoohoo? I figure if you can say “vagina” on network tv you can say it at an art show, right? I could gesticulate vaguely towards my nether bits I suppose. Though someone might think I have insects near my crotch and THAT never makes a good impression.

Thanks to the monsoon, we got to know one of the most talented artists I’ve met in a long damn time. Lilla, of http://bibelotecamollusca.com. If I’d made any money I’d have bought all of the things. But you, gentle readers, go buy the things. They are awesome things. She’s also on Etsy.

So the skinny on Custer is this, for any crafty types considering trying it out.
The arts and crafts section has some of the badass-est artists I’ve seen in a while. From what my monkeys and I gathered talking to them though, not many were making their rent. If Custer wants to keep this thing going as part art show (as opposed to all flea market), they really need to back up their “if it’s not hand made by you we will kick yo ass out” claim for the arts and crafts section. They currently don’t, despite the stern wording in the vendor packet regarding mass produced goods. I saw three shops on my street alone selling identical wares. I don’t know if they were three different businesses selling the same mass produced stuff, or one business with three spaces, but it looked like shit.
Custer is having a hard time filling spaces because artists aren’t doing well there, so they’re not coming back. Demographically speaking there’s no real reason for that to be the case. Evanston is a well mixed (culturally and age-wise) area with a large middle class, well educated population.
The missing element may just be the vibe of the show. 22 years at ren faire has taught me a lot about setting the mood for a crowd, and they’re sending a very mixed message. It’s a thing. Mark my words.

So take your chances if you have the dough, because attendance is huge and the organizers, but for their willy nilly booth placement, are a well oiled machine that make life fairly easy for vendors. And the weather is USUALLY cooperative.
But only if you’re willing to work two very long days just to make back your nut. It seemed to us, from the conversations we had, that that’s all people were doing. But I know of at least a couple of shops that do consistently well with handmade, and maybe it’s that they’ve stuck it out after a crappy year and trained the crowd.
I’m not sure if I’m going to do that next year. If my next two shows are as shitty as my last two, probably not because I simply won’t have the dough. But if I do it may be worth trying to acclimate Evanstonians to glittery dead things.
Everyone. Should be acclimated to glittery dead things.

One of us…

One of us…

Gloom cookie

I was recently accused of being obsessed with death. My response was, “Whaddaya want? I’m a goth!” Which is true. I own every Cure album, 99% of my wardrobe is black, I wear black lipstick, and I knew who Vlad Tepes was by the age of 13.
Yes, my work contains a lot of skulls and bones and death imagery.
But I’m not “obsessed”. I am fascinated. By life and all it’s intricate rituals. A huge number of which involve death and what may or may not happen after. So the subject is unavoidable if you’re a student of cultures and mythologies and stories.
I’m also dealing with a parent that has a terminal illness. My dad was diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago. He’s had two remissions, but he’s not going into a third. He’s ok right now. The chemo is keeping it from getting worse, but that’s not going to last indefinitely. Death is sitting at my dinner table as we speak. It is everyone’s, when you think about it, but in my particular case I can’t ignore it.

In this country we’re in some serious denial about death. We’re ideologically divorced from the natural progression of time and the inevitability of decay. That’s not particularly healthy in my opinion (and no few learned professionals, so I’m not just making this up). Cuz, newsflash y’all, we’re all gonna die. And beyond just our individual snowflake selves, our culture, our country, will also die or evolve past what we might now recognize. It happened to Egypt and Rome, it happened to the vast and interconnected empires of the Khans. Nothing lasts forever.
And that’s GOOD. It’s NECESSARY for the continued functioning of EVERYTHING.
If you look at biology and physics, they show you that decay feeds life. Death feeds evolution. Everything on this world, any part of the universe is in a constant state of decay. That decay is transformative in all cases.
We’re nothing but atoms formed in the bellies of dying stars. Only a dying star can make the atoms that make us. Without death, we wouldn’t be here. Those atoms don’t go away when we die, they get recycled into the epic huge generator that is the universe. Think past your own life to the vastness of EVERYTHING and think about what happens if that recycling stops.
On a small scale, cancer. On an unimaginably huge one, the end of the universe. I’m oversimplifying, but basically, yeah.

And it’s healthy to face that reality and embrace it. Because really, there’s only one way this, all this – you, me, Fluffy the cat, cars, balloons, Venus, monkeys, the Empire State Building, Lady Gaga, et cetera – is going to go, and you can either look the other way or deal. I like to deal.
I am fascinated by cultures that deal. Mythologies that make a place at the table for death. Welcome it like an old friend. It wasn’t so very long ago that ours did as well. Some of the most richly symbolic art in modern Western culture is Victorian funerary art. But we’ve moved away from that as our deaths have become the business of hospitals and mortuaries.
We all used to die and be prepared for burial at home, by our families and communities. Some religions within our country still do that for their dead (Mormons and some Jewish communities come to mind) but the vast majority will be distanced from it.
Whatever that distance may mean to you personally, it’s not a bad thing to want to close that distance. It doesn’t make you obsessed. It makes you curious.
Curiosity about where you’ll inevitably end up is, like curiosity in general, healthy. If you’re terminally ill, it’s considered brave to face death head on, but anybody else is considered morbid for it. Why would a young, healthy person be interested in ceasing to exist and rotting in the ground? Taboo!

Why? Because it’s going to happen eventually and you may as well explore the idea while you have the opportunity to do so. You explore the idea of growing up when you’re a child, the idea of sex when you’re a virgin, the idea of marriage when you’re dating, the idea of having children before you’re a parent. Why balk at death?
Because it’s scary? Sure, but I’d argue that so is the notion of turning food into a human, but many women get pregnant seemingly without much prior consideration and think nothing of it. Death is just as normal and natural as reproduction, and absolutely necessary for continuity of the universe, let alone your mere genetic line, which is a drop in a very large ocean of energy using systems, from the smallest bacteria to a star multiple times the size of our sun. All of which, be it in hours or tens of billions of years, will die.

How freakin’ awesome is that thought? Obsessed with death? Yeah, ok. Because a dying star made my body that does kung fu like a boss, and all the electricity zipping around my brain meatz making thoughts happen. And that, people, is RAD. So is the question of where my carbon will go when I die. A tree? An eagle? A volcano?
Oh man, I WANNA BE A VOLCANO!!