A Visit with Lori

Yesterday I had to drag myself out of bed for another long, Ricky-less Sunday where he worked a double at the Subhouse. I had promised Lori that I would meet up with her in the mall and walk around, catch up, and people-watch, her favorite thing to do. The spoiled side of me didn’t want to go, given the fact that I didn’t have a dollar to my name and I’m usually not quite fond of getting fooled around with by the temptation of new Bath and Body Works scents and the smell of mall Chinese food.

And, while I started thinking of every excuse not to go, via my normal anti-social habits, I still decided to give Miss Lori a ring and plan to meet at Sbarros in the next hour.

Lori came strolling around the mall corner some 15 minutes late with a warm greeting and smoothie from Auntie Annie’s. I asked her where she would like to go first, and she said she was looking to get her nails done.

She meekly grabbed a pamphlet at the salon and started flipping through. An Asian woman working there yelled out at us that the prices were $2 more than listed on the menu.

“We could get it done together. It’ll be on me”

Like butter to my ears. She flashed that signature smile she ever-so enjoyed flashing so much when she’s conducted an act of kindness. I’ve seen it many differing unique times with many differing unique gifts.

We decided to get pedicures. I was excited to finally get the remnants of Colorstreet sticker off my toe tips and get new color. We went to the polish wall to pick our colors. I went with this gaudy bright yellow orange hue I only regret a little, only because they came out neon. I thought if I’m having a hard time spreading sunshine through my unstable disposition, I might as well try to spread it through my toes when I wear my gladiator sandals.

Lori said she was looking for a specific color of blue. After I suggested 3 or 4 different shades, she went with a pale pink, which almost blended in with her pale skin. told her it looked very 90’s business chic, which made her haunch one loud hearty chuckle, followed by “what makes you say that??”

See, Lori is very special company. Her open, non-judgemental ears have healing energy every time you open up. She’s quietly arrayed and attentive when you spill your guts to her, and prefers to think about the advice or empathy she’s going to give. And, while I always like to focus on healing others, I almost forgot how much lighter my heart feels after my Saturday evenings with Lori when she heals me.

While in the pedicure chairs, I kinda spilled my guts through my cat-patterned mask to her sitting next me. I told her about how I’ve been unstable and manic lately and I’m still adjusting to the social deprivation of not waitressing anymore. Of course she understood, like she always does. She lives on her own, and told me that it takes time adjusting to spending time with yourself, when Ricky isn’t home.

I showed her a picture of the Bipolar Beast painting I did a few days ago when I was manic. She said it looked like a Superwoman with fangs. I really like that interpretation- makes me feel more… worthy. Super. Heroic instead of defeated.

I wiggled my toes into the foam flip flops after the final top coat and hobbled over to the drying station. Lori followed close by after, and I scooted over to give her some room to stick her feet in the black light fan.

“Stephanie, would you like me to pray for you? Right now?” She flashed the most caring, almost maternal eyes as she looked over her glasses into my sight.

“Yes, Lori. Please, pray for me”

She meekly asked if I would mind if she touched my shoulder. In response, I grabbed her hand quickly with a gentle force. A burst of warm pink energy started to spread from her right fingertips to my left palm.

We bowed our heads and she began to speak to the Heavenly Father on my behalf.

And while she asked for blessings in an audible tone, she was sure to touch on nearly every aspect of my life. “Give Ricky strength and will to take care of me when I’m mentally ill. Give Raisin and YellowBelly long-lasting health to help me carry on. Give me the will let my happy jubilant self shine again”

“In Jesus name, Amen.”

I looked at her, with tears in my eyes. She smiled back a soft, caring grin. “Jesus loves and cares about you, even when you feel like no one else does.”

While I admit I am not a Christian woman, I was still greatly moved by the magic she conducted in her own language. Her inspiration never stops making an impact, nearly every Saturday. And I’m just starting to get to know her.

Before we parted ways, I reached out and hugged her for the first time. I left the mall with my aura morphed into a unique mix of pale 90’s business chic pink and gaudy neon yellow orange sunshine.


I remember when I was working at Donatos by the base during college in 2012. One particular night, a customer came to the counter while I was at the cut table. He looked to be in his late 20’s, early 30’s. I’m a little fuzzy, but I recall him wearing a military uniform, grasping a camouflage hat at his underarm with crossed arms.

“Hi there! How are you doing today?” I swerved through the swinging door to meet him at the front.

He lowered his forehead a little bit.

“I’m fine,”

Some customers seemed a little hostile, but he seemed to be fairly bothered by something.

After asking his name, I asked him if he wanted to pick up or eat there. He answered “ P-P-Piiiiiiiiii………. ppppppp-ppick it up.” His face distorted into a frustrated cluster. I had no reaction. His name was Andrew.

“a, uh, medium hand-taaaaaahhhhhh….” he sighed and averted his gaze to the tile under his feet. “Tah-tah-tah-tttttttttt-taaaaaah- tossed”

I allowed him to sound out the syllables without any interruption or suggestion. “Okay, so you want a medium hand tossed? What toppings would you like on that?”

“Pppppppp…. Peeeeehhh….” he stopped for a second. A vein popped out of his forehead as he shot daggers down at the floor. “Peh-ppppppppperonni”

“Good choice! How about some bread sticks or cinnamon twists on the side?”

He finally made eye contact with me for a second or two. I shot him the kindest eyes I could, with a wide smile and an inviting posture. He looked around a second and focused again on me. His frustration started to subside- in fact, I saw a grin start to curl on the side of his steady frown. “No thanks.”

“Alright Andrew, I have you down for a medium hand tossed pepperoni?”

I wanted to tell him that I understood his struggle, maybe not to the same degree because I didn’t have a speech impediment. But I do have Tourette’s, and around that time struggled with a very violent swing of the arm and a neck jerk tic. I managed to suppress it during this particular exchange- sometimes the urges to box my ear came and went.

“That’ll be 10.19! With a card?”

Not only did I want to empathize with this stranger I just met, but I wanted to empower him. I wanted to look him in the eye and tell him to NOT feel ashamed for what his brain cannot do, but to be thankful for what it does do properly. That his disability is NOT a personality flaw and should not be regarded as such, but treasured as a characteristic that built you into the person you are today.


It’s none of my business.

I handed him back his credit card slip. “Okay, if I can get your John Hancock right there,”

I thought about all the jokes my friends would crack up about my vicious right hook, which were meant to be in good spirits but got really old really quick.

I thought about those people who ridiculed me for it, those acquaintances with no patience for someone who accidentally tosses pencils, pens, paintbrushes, hairbrushes, and, at work, pepperonis with each hook. Those what-the-fuck glares, the stigma, being different.

I know it Andrew- and I know it well. And if i had the guts to have shared my healing energy with this suffering stranger, I would have, but it still was none of my business.

But I think my magic might have gotten through to him- he ended up tipping me a crisp $20 bill for my “G-gggguuuuu-gggg-good service”

Shine On

Earlier today mom tagged me in an article about Pink Floyd, which included a more in-depth perspective of how Syd Barrett’s “cheese slid off the cracker” when the band got famous. When was the last time I felt a spiritual movement while listening to Shine On You Crazy Diamond? I lashed out for the Bluetooth headphones immediately, and started the orchestral hum of the beginning of the five part piece.

I’ve had a connection with that piece since I put myself in Barrett’s place through my own mental illnesses and struggles with them. Although I did not partake in massive amounts of acid consumption, I did suffer side effects of too much psyche medication, a mistake I made while I had already lost my topper.

When Dave Gilmour struck those first four notes with precise thumb and pose, I felt chills spike down my spinal chord through the nerves in my crown.
And as the guitar crooned melodic condolences so sweet, I could feel my innocent ears rock back and forth, like laying empathized in baby’s comfiest crib.

Gilmour went on to start reciting lyrics, reading aloud my diary word for word, August 15, 2014. “Come on you raver, you seer of visions-
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”
Just like Brian Beck yelled to me off key over the phone while I was in the mental hospital.

I thought about all those times my mental illnesses got in the way of functioning properly in society. When I was hallucinating, manic as hell while serving triple figure business people wines and hors d’oeuvres I couldn’t pronounce.

I thought about what it looked like under the surface, when I lost my conscious state of mind and dove underwater.

I thought about my current struggles. The struggles of the Syd Barrett’s around me.

Gilmour barked a loud SHIIIIIINE! Before the sax solo, so I set the question out there- how does this sick basket case like myself shine tonight?

I heard it loud and clear as any intuitive sixth sense would ring in the ear of a somewhat manic psychic soul would: “Quit Fucking around and paint something” a friendly reminder from Brian’s essence.

So this is what I came up with. Do I feel better? I still feel like laughing and crying at the same time

Bipolar Beast, 2020

DAI Roman Bust experience

An empty room of ancient Greek marbles, unguarded, and my permeable inspiration waiting to be molded. And it was shaped a bit that day, for when I glanced in the room I saw Him. Yes, Him with a capital H, because he was and never was human, nor a remake of human, but a standard of otherworldly orientation, he was, quite organic, VERY lifelike in size and stature, but still Greek stylized. Big nose and deep, hollow eyes. We stood face to face.

I took a glance left, then a quick look right. Left again. No one. That gaze mimicked every other Greek marble, yes, but His was different; the expression and lowset brow bones. dita sulla pelle di pietra. I stroked it and Jet black lightning struck down my spine- 5 layers of chills outlined goosebumps on my arms.

A glance to the left.

My eyes worked over the details of his ears. La sua testa. Maxilla. Zygomatic arch. Curious, gentle hands following.

A glance to the right.

He was venturing into something so deep in myself I never knew existed, undiscovered until now. Hollowed pupils and parted lips. I cocked my head and leaned in closer- yet another blast of romance and emotion. Pride and humiliation at the same time. I was so close, I had expected that kissing scent, like that smell when you’re kissing someone, but of course it wasn’t there. 
My heart drooped at this, and it was quite amusing.

I felt relieved. Revived in this ancient art work. I was in love, not with Him himself, but what he helped me see. Like I was turned inside out and all the muck spread on the spotless tiles.

But I was discovered. “… uhhh, Steph, what are you doing?” Lydia was standing there for a while.

Sketches to music






So I’ve been struggling with art a little bit lately, and I wanted to utilize my subconscious, intuition and my imagination all at the same time. These are short, 3-5 minute sketches made while listening to experimental music. In other words, this is what the music looks like in my head. A Youtube link to the corresponding song is posted after the picture, none of which I own.Image

Haunted Hotel Beat- Jaytram


False Astronomy- Mister Lies

Take Time- Low Leaf

Alarma- Machinedrum

Too Long at the Fair- Teebs

Signs and Wonders- Kona Triangle

Soarin’- Sinitus Tempo

Bass Spalls- Heyoka
And We Gonna (Samiyam Chopsticks Remix)- Shigeto

My Heart

ImageMy heart is but a fishing bobber:
Pallid and crimson, split in color.
When casted from pole, to sea, or lake
or pond, perhaps. 
Floating uneasy atop the drift, 
To billow in ripple; bobbing over forgotten wakes.

To reel it in would be a lost cause
Because one would save a thing if it were drowning
But for what? For what?
To save my bobber heart from drowning? Why?


I can pinpoint the date I lost my Christian faith

April 3, 2009
North Carolina, six more hours to go
     Death is inevitable.
     I repeat this in my head whenever I’m travelling. My weight is being moved at seventy a mile. I’m not home; I’m not on my land. 
     Yet, what is staying on my land uncomfortable comfort zone compared to the pride of experience and the gain of knowledge? Balance? Status quo? What is having land if your land isn’t blessed?
     Moving only makes sense for someone who is Godless: seeking for a spiritual power and failing, then immaturely crying over the inability to find what they once had. Those who are foreign to this social belonging shouldn’t be. The grass doesn’t grow long enough for the cows to feed without the sun. The heart doesn’t grow warm enough to house the Holy Spirit without those doubts. Right?
     I’ve always been a young woman of pride- pride for my work and pride for my home. Pride houses my comfort, but could my pride of knowing persist somewhere outside of my land? My comfort zone? My state?
     Nothing would ever happen if my ultimate truths changed. If I expand my knowledge and my mind, the sun will wash over the rolling hills as it always has. The blades of grass will grow taller. The cows would be grazing.
     If nature’s course would take my life, nothing would happen. The beauty would still glisten over the Carolinas.
     And, if I would perish in accepted reasonings, my land would still saturate in the Holy Spirit I have been unable to accept for some years. My roof would still be shrouded in peaceful benedictions. My windows- glazed in echoes of prayer. 
     If I would die, my pride of knowing the answer to the ultimate question would fall with me. 
     That’s why I can’t navigate what isn’t my fault. My hands cannot labor what isn’t learned and what isn’t learnable. My heart can’t change its facts as my mind does everyday; Like it ever was created to do so. 
     I justified this by making up my mind and deciding it was my fault. I must have did something to change my thinking patterns. Having an answer should erase the scribbles of other opportunities and reasons why. Jesus, I’m thinking like a seven year old. 
     If my pride and spirituality can balance each other out one day, I can make anywhere my home. I can be at peace with my new knowledge and experiences as well as moving on from my young life and being content with not knowing all the answers to life’s questions. I’ll start growing a confidence tree for my major life decisions. I’ll stop thinking like a seven year old. I’ll finally move on.

December 15, 2008

The final day the Earth stood still
Illuminated shine, 
A Priestess then had told the shrill,
The shrieking paradigm;

“For you hath sinned against God’s will
And punish you he must!”
“Confess! Confess! Immoral thrills
and unforgotten lust!”

“Now is time!” she preached to them,
“So climb into my hands!”
As if she knew what wrath would stem
In these, his restless lands

So in they climbed, their feet and palms
Were hanging off the side;
So quietly they read their psalms
And followed unknown guide

So smart the people must have lived
To have her fail and still forgive

The Stories Behind Dayton’s Masterpieces

The Stories Behind Dayton’s Masterpieces

In the Dayton Art Institute, the historical treasures hanging for all to see not only display the artists masterwork, but reveal a glimpse of that era’s contribution towards the growth and prosperity of the human race; stories that, if attempted to be written down, could not carry the magnitude of the human spirit as mightily as the tapestries, paintings and other works we art historians study today.

The Dayton Art Institute displays one of those particularly important stories for the growth of mankind (the birth of humanism) with realistic sculpture studies of the human form created by Greek peoples during the 4th century Classical Era (198).

Portrait Head of a Man, found in room 220- Ancient Art, number 1952.34 is a great example of this achievement. Estimated to have been created circa 300 B.C.E., Portrait Head of a Man not only exemplifies the change in perspective towards the power of the human being, but also the growth of Greek sculptors’ skills and adroitness with their works during this time period. The Artisan(s) responsible for bringing this piece to life creatively carved the head out of slightly translucent marble, mimicking the properties of very smooth human flesh. Interestingly enough, Portrait Head of a Man’s surface appears to shimmer slightly, accentuating the highlighted planes under the spotlight above.

If the medium wasn’t human enough, the realism found in this piece really makes the works come to life. Detailed with careful strokes, the life size sculpture expresses accurate Greek facial features (large nose, prominent jaw line) while experimenting with nearly-there proportions. The eyes, protruding from the face and lacking detail, are slightly larger than real life, demonstrating the Greek importance of them as vital communication tools.

And, I’d like to point out, that it was quite difficult not to touch and accidentally yellow the surface of the marble with skin oils just because it holds such lifelike qualities. The sculpture could be described resonating a social and emotional aura as a living human being would, striving to communicate with members of the audience who hold the ability to listen.

While the Dayton Art Institute holds Portrait Head of a Man responsible for telling the story of humanistic growth, the DAI reveals a plethora of works telling stories of the western Christianity movement and religious achievements, created by artisans to please their god and their god’s peoples. These pieces not only use religious symbolism to tell anecdotes of religious happenings, but also express the passion mankind has for it’s idea of the afterlife.
One of the religious icons “The Archangel Michael Slaying the Dragon” sculpture depicts the heroic battles of“[the] Protector of the Chosen, who defends his people from Satan and conducts their souls to God” (334). Found in room 220- Mid-evil, number 1973.88, the Archangel thunders the glory of the protector and symbolically proclaims the victory of the church’s eternal struggle with evil (Michael) over the devil (the dragon) (334). Estimated to have been created circa 1510-30 C.E., the Archangel is a wall-hanging piece with a flat back, constructed of marble with traces of paint, mostly chipped off.

What really expresses the emotional movement of the piece is the portrayal of the hero and his nemesis, taking into account his stance, wardrobe, and a blatant sense of hierarchical scale. Michael, once heroically yielding a sword to slay the monster, is fully armored in Gothic-style shields and declares his power by standing much taller than the dragon, towering at it’s mercy. The Dragon, surrealistically depicted, has webbed hands, a very bony spine with vertebrae sticking out, dramatic horns atop it’s forehead, and a large, unrealistic mouth threatening attack towards the Protector of the Chosen.

One of the most vital religious aspects of this piece is the ability to reach humanity on an spiritual level; to “speak to those who almost intuitively understand their suggestive form of communicating” (334). In other words, this piece could be used as a communication tool between the peoples and their god. The Archangel, with it’s bold, easily understandable message of victory could be used by the people of the church to communicate jubilance and exultation to their god.

When these two pieces and their stories are studied side by side, the differences between the two are most easily observable; stylistically, context-wise, intended purpose of the piece, how the works stands on it’s own, and other variants between the two are blatantly obvious. For example, the full human figure/form of The Archangel contrasts the bust-only cranial quality of Portrait Head of a man, while the bust is intended to sit on a flat surface and The Archangel is to be hung on a wall. The contrast between use of space also differentiates the pieces from each other: the Head lacking grounds as a bust and The Archangel expressing a horizon line, hierarchical scale, and an overall grand scheme that captures the eye and systematically moves it about the piece.

The difference between the humanistic significance of Portrait Head of a Man and the religious importance behind The Archangel Michael Slaying a Dragon also have conflicting purposes: Portrait Head ultimately glorifying the discoveries of western man and serving as a study tool of human anatomy, versus The Archangel displaying upbeat religious propaganda to the people of the church while symbolically being religious icon in which man can use the piece as a communication tool for themselves and their god. Also, not to mention the pieces were created over two millenia apart from each other.

But, as all great art historians know, the stories behind each piece in a western historical collection of works can all be connected in some shape or form. In The Portrait Head and The Archangel’s case, similarity of the portrayal of beauty, sculpting material, and the overall triumphant attitude of the work compares these two differing stories in time. While The Portrait Head exclaims yet another achievement of the human race (the ability to mimic the realism of their own appearance), The Archangel roars the church victorious over evil in the same reverberating human spirit.

The most interesting connection between Portrait Head of a Man and The Archangel Michael Slaying a Dragon is the influence of the Greek style: curly, stylized hair, the armor draping off the body in Greek elegance, The Archangel portrayed as young, physically fit and muscular, I.E. the Greek’s attitude toward strength and human perfection (lecture notes). These pieces are not only connected with their physical similarities, but connected through the history of western civilization itself.

While the two differentiating pieces contrast in purpose, repose and era, they both hold the power to tell the history behind the beauty, for a painting without a story is simply a piece of décor.

Works Cited

Stokstad, Marilyn. “Art History” second edition volume one. Prentice-Hall, Inc. Upper Saddle River, NJ. 1999.

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