as proof to my romantic & painfully…obliviously…optimistic nature: i have always loved valentine’s day it took me many many broken hearts to grow calloused towards the day even yesterday, amidst my angst, i still kept peeking out my front window hoping for flowers from some secret admirer…. i planned to just mope all day but instead my pain came out in my art.
up top: “looking for grubs in all the wrong places” 9X12 mixed media on watercolor paper…$75 above left: “a fool for love” 8X8 mixed media on watercolor paper…$55 above right: “so what; who cares” 6X6 mixed media on watercolor paper…$35
here is the before shot as i began my search for messages from the universe in inkstains:
in other news…my wardrobe: suited better for ink? or more exciting with pastels?
my response to chuck klosterman’s book i wear the black hat
am i trying to be a villain or is it just that i really don’t give a fuck?
should i try harder to be the villain?
at best, i am unlikable. maybe i should go for the gold and become loathsome?
i have always wondered if my art and writings would gather a larger audience if i were notorious. infamous. maybe i just need to try harder at being a villain.
why am i unlikable? is it my go fuck yourself attitude? i know i’m not physically unattractive. i have even been called beautiful on occasion. however, i don’t follow the conventional rules for beauty. i don’t wear makeup. i rarely comb my hair. i often shave my head. piercings and tattoos and a wardrobe mostly made up of black. boots instead of shoes. my uniform does not encourage positive attention. it tells the world i just don’t give a fuck.
should i just go ahead and don the black hat?
i often tell myself i’m not doing enough to be a good person. so then i go out and do something like…foster a puppy. i thought, i have experience with fostering animals and am an experienced dog trainer. i should give back to society by fostering a dog.
and seemingly without a second thought, i found a puppy living in my house.
and then i started to slowly lose my mind.
i don’t like taking care of things. anything. my first boyfriend, while laying in a fetal position on the floor, was like, “would you take care of me if i had polio?” and i was all like, “no!!”
i don’t like taking care of things.
yet i think i am supposed to take care of things. because i am a woman? because i am supposed to be nurturing? because i want to make the world a better place? because that’s what good people do?
periodically through my life i would quit my easy restaurant job (that allowed me brain space to still write and do art) to take a caretaking job. nursing home, daycare, homeless shelter, humane society, etc.
and each time i would burn out. i am empathetic to a fault. i care too much, if that is a thing. so caretaking leaves me drained. compassion fatigue, they call it. i become dead on the inside because i have drowned in my own empathy.
that’s not a thing, you might say…but it is the best way for me to explain why i cannot be a caretaker.
i probably never should have had kids.
but i do have kids and taking care of them and taking care of me is all i can do. so why do i keep telling myself i should be doing more? why do i do something like apply to foster dogs when i am already at the very limit of my very limited caretaking ability?
do i really think it makes me a better person?
it does not. i become horrible and brittle. angry and reactive.
how many times a day do i threaten to strangle the puppy. sure, he can’t understand english, but how much is my negative energy harming him? my inability to cuddle and pet him because i just want to throw him out a window?
i would not throw him out a window.
i know this about myself. as horrible as i am, the little voices are just that. voices. they have no control. i just listen to them to the extent of imagining what it would be like to give in to them.
but then i tell myself to knock it that fuck off, and i feed the puppy and try to talk to him in a nice voice.
i heard myself tell an acquaintance in a pubic market that i wanted to strangle the puppy. i thought, oh, maybe i shouldn’t say that out loud, but then i realized i didn’t care what anyone might thing of me.
i’m not going to strangle the puppy.
i’m just frustrated.
frustrated with the dog rescue that offers no support, dropping off a puppy without any resources.
frustrated with myself for once again taking on more than i am capable of doing. yes, physically i can care for a puppy…but mentally and emotionally? nope. too much.
i need to stop trying to prove to myself and the world that i am a good person.
i need to admit that i am not nurturing.
i am not a caretaker.
but does this make me a villain?
chuck klosterman said that a villain knows but doesn’t care. except hitler who cared but didn’t know? (i’m still not clear on that one.)
i know…and i care…but i’m all out of fucks to give.
giving a fuck would surely destroy me.
and that’s probably what makes me a villain.
up top: “roadtrip to oz” 9X12 mixed media on watercolor paper…$75
when i was born, they named me mary jo connell. in my family, i already had a cousin named mary and would soon have another cousin named mary. it is the go-to catholic name for girls. every family needed one apparently. my cousin mary katherine became mary k. my cousin mary theresa became mary t. i was mary jo.
always mary jo.
named for my mom’s best friend. a name not usually found in the midwest and not the usual catholic combo like my cousins’. in the era i was born, the name mary jo would make you think of petticoat junction. during my time as a kid, tv would produce another southern woman named mary jo on the show designing women. i gathered that mary jos were sassy and southern with cute accents.
not like me.
in first grade there was somehow another mary jo (what? seriously?) so my teacher asked me, “do you want to be mary jo or jojo?” why jojo? i still don’t know. but i chose mary jo. changing my name at that junction seemed terrifying…like most of public school did. i figured it was best to stick to the evil i knew. plus jojo was surely not approved by the catholic church.
i wonder about that other mary jo. did she resent me for stealing her name? she didn’t stay at our school long. maybe because of the name conflict? but while she was there she was totally mean to me, ripping up the note i sent greg liles right in front of me (i think you’re funny; do you like me yes or no?). but can i blame her? i was party to the sentencing of her time (or life?) as a jojo.
my bus driver, a farmer who needed winter time income, was the first one to call me mojo. i don’t know why. but i liked that one. too bad mrs. doris didn’t offer me that name. i have used mojo from time to time, but most of my childhood i was mary jo. except for one semester when i thought i should try to be normal and told everyone to call me mary.
i was not a mary. mary’s are good and mild mannered. they are virginal. i am strange and angry. i am offensive. i am prone to rocking the boat when you are sure the storm has passed and it is only smooth sailing ahead.
i was a mary jo.
and then i became an mj. you know, like spiderman’s girlfriend.
expect every pothead ever greeted me with, “mj! maryjane! right on!’
when i was in my early twenties, i played around with pen names. em joe jones was my favorite. kind of a tribute to my favorite supporting actor, m. emmet walsh. i always thought i would be best as a supporting actor, a back up singer. i usually aimed for those low-hanging stars.
mojo jones was another pen name i used. i totally wanted to get rid of that connell. get rid of the catholic. i wanted to be free of dysfunction and abuse and all the chips that lived on my shoulder.
plus i had a theory that the best authors were not found anywhere before the middle of the alphabet.
in my later twenties i would land in kentucky by total accident. in kentucky they loved my name even if they didn’t really get me.
i stayed there longer than i should have…maybe because of my southern name.
while i was there, my boss at a bbq restaurant told me that in the south you either added or subtracted syllables when pronouncing words. he called me merjo.
when i was 28, i eloped with a guy i had known for less than two months. this made it so i could finally leave the beginning of the alphabet and go squat in the middle where i felt i truly belonged. no longer a connell, i became a mccarty. surely everything would go better for me now.
when i divorced my husband a year and a half later by going to the divorce hut in lexington and filling out some papers, i kept the name.
years later he would gloat about this, like it proved i still loved him.
but it was actually for alliterative reasons. mj mccarty.
recently i learned that mongolians valued alliteration above rhyme, and i was like, that just further proves i am genghis khan reincarnated…a theory i have because we both believed we were a punishment sent by god.
i especially love assonance. sometimes just so i can say “nice assonance.”
i also kept the name to avoid being a connell again.
i left kentucky sometime later and moved to wisconsin, where, starting from scratch i told everyone my name was mj. so, barring government workers who still called me mary because that’s what the documents say, i was a solid mj in wisconsin.
then i remarried. i gave up my mccarty to become a walker because i thought that that was what love looked like. you know, sacrificing your identity for someone else.
it sounded too much like tj hooker. plus the asshole govenor of wisconsin was named walker, so…. the minute i divorced my second husband, i took back my mccarty.
“don’t you want to have the same name as your kids?” people tended to ask me.
“look at them,” i answered. “no one is going to doubt they are mine.”
because i gave birth to like four mini-mes.
then my brother died.
i started telling everyone my name was em. because m was the initial of me and my brother. we were the m’s of the family. now i was the only m. i thought about going by just the letter m, you know, like 007’s boss, but i didn’t want to be just one letter. so i spelled it em and told everyone it was for phonetic reasons.
i also added connell back in to show tribute to my brother. most of my family who had fallen away wandered back to catholicism to tribute my brother…which made me wonder if i died tragically, would they become witches? but not willing to be catholic again, i added connell back into my name.
for a brief time i tried on the name em connell mccarty.
but there were problems right away. people assumed the em was short for emily (why not emma?), and I felt being an emily was just as bad if not worse than being a mary.
and the connell was just too bulky. i don’t think i’m a three name person after all, maybe that’s why mary jo had to be shortened to mj in the first place.
while tweaking around with my name, i remembered how much i liked it when a past coworker would try to pronounce mj as a word instead of initials. it sounded to me like it would be spelled emje. so i put the j back in but kept the e and even added another one.
problem now was that no one knew how to pronounce my name when they saw it spelled.
so i gave up and told them it was basically mj.
just spelled funny.
and that is how i became me.
there are several songs about mary. but who sings a song about mary jo?
a. belle & sebastian
b. tony orlando & dawn
c. adam ant (formerly of adam & the ants)
d. all of the above
up top: “lost at sea” 6X6 mixed media on watercolor paper…$35 directly above: “call of the wild” 8X8 mixed media on watercolor paper…$55
ever since i realized i no longer identify as an invisible exhibitionist i have wondered what else about me has changed like am i still quixotic? a quick search reports quixotic as meaning: extremely idealistic; unrealistic and impractical. i always tell people it means “delusionally hopeful” i even gave my fourth son who came into my life by accident, not planning the middle name “quixotic” because i thought “serendipitous” would be too obvious going through with a fourth pregnancy when dirt poor in an abusive relationship & struggling with motherhood, felt hopeful in a delusional way…. & i guess unrealistic & impractical… but is that bad? it sounds bad maybe i should re-think my quixotic ways? hmmm i thought about changing the name of this website/blog to something less quixotic but i am pretty sure that even on my deathbed i will be dreaming of ways to really fuck those windmills up….
more messages from the universe in process:
up top: “don quixote rides again” 8X8 mixed media on watercolor paper…$55
so i tried to do a manifestation spell the other day… but it kinda blew up in my face as spells are apt to do with me when people ask if i am a good witch or a bad witch, i tell them i am a mediocre witch anyhoo the spell went wrong but also right? instead of drawing the object of my affection to me, it severed my bond to him lots of farting & crying resulted on my end (from my end?) apparently backfired spells can cause some righteous backfiring… but i woke up the next morning feeling much lighter.
meanwhile, more strange & whimsical art from me & my inkstains….
up top: “hands off my poppet” 9X12 mixed media on watercolor paper….$75 above left: “follow me home” 6X6 mixed media on watercolor paper…$35 above right: “jesus, tom!” 8X8 mixed media on watercolor paper…$55
i am quitting reading fiction for the time being in order to focus on writing fiction like turn the music up loud and wait for inspiration much like i am doing with my art lately so let’s see what happens….
i am still reading non-fiction currently: genghis khan and the quest for god (highly recommend) which may have inspired “he came from humble beginnings”. 6X6 mixed media on watercolor paper…$35
also hot off the watercolor pad “fisher cat ate all my sardines” 8X8 mixed media on watercolor paper…$55
up top is one of my new favorites “sure she was funny…but was that enough?” 9X12 mixed media on watercolor paper…$75