2018 Feed

What is your Story?

1929948_14173039431_2389_nIf someone asked you, 'what is your story?' what would you tell them? 

Would the sum total of your Story be - "I went to work and then I got married and then I died" ?  Hopefully not. What did you DO? What are you most proud of? What did you learn? That's all part of your Story. 

Starting on Saturday, December 22nd, I'm going to tell you my story. Some of it is nice. Some of it is not. I probably won't tell you some things, and you may even think that I'm over-sharing. But it is my Story. And, as I approach a Very Important Birthday on March 9th (one that I have written about in the past here and, more recently, here)I want to tell my Story while I can because we never really know what the future holds, do we? 

I hope you'll join me. I hope that you find something that resonates with you. Like Elizabeth Moss' character on MAD MEN, I wish to create something of lasting value. Perhaps my Story will be it. Maybe not. But, I feel compelled to tell it at this point in my life. 

Meanwhile, what is your Story? 

Ellis Island

A couple years ago, just prior to the Presidential election, I worked at an event held at Ellis Island. Walking the sane steps that so many immigrants had on their way to a better life was inspiring. Most of us probably really have no idea what it's like to have a life so terrible that we risk life and limb to cross the ocean with basically nothing, in order for the chance at a better life. 

LibertySo it was that I felt inspired just by being there.

And then, as the sun began to set and I stepped outside for a little air, I caught the sunset blazing across the sky, billowy clouds and pink, red, orange, yellow, blue mixing together to create an unbelievable palette. And there, ... just 'right there' was the Statue of Liberty, her self reflected in the waters of the Hudson. To the other side, the skyline of downtown Manhattan.

I couldn't help but be affected by it all.

The past couple years have been a challenge financially and a challenge to my self esteem - if I'm not producing events, if I am not raising money, if I am not emceeing, if I am not doing this or that... who and what am I and what am I doing on this planet at this point in time? And what do I do from here? There have been no answers. I soldier on. I take projects that I get and hope (like many of us do) that the reason for all of this will eventually be clear.

Politics have tried my patience and have created acrimony and agony (emotional, intellectual, spiritual) for all of us. We have lost friends to political clashes and it seems as though we didn't know the people in our lives the way we thought we did. It seems as though the country is about to explode in civil war unless another bombing or another shooting does us in first. And there has been tremendous death - certainly personally for me, but also culturally. This has not been an easy time for anyone.

And yet, two years later, I am still thinking of this vision of beauty. And hope. Yes, I know it's corny. But yes this vision brought me hope. Hope that you can struggle to get to the new world but that it will be worth it. So, we are on the boat right now and we are all traveling to the new world together. It's rocky, no one will tell you that's not true... but we have to hold on. and, if we have to, we will continue to fight for what's right and beautiful.

And so I look to my own life. True, there are currently struggles galore. But you know what's going right? I have a great apartment that I've made my home for nearly 15 years. I have an amazing man who I sometimes can't believe is in my life and, even better.. we have been living together for over two years (and he cooks! If you're on Instagram, follow me at @jacobandrewaltenburg and you can see how "we're cooking grub in our tiny place"). Work-wise,  I produced an amazing project this past spring for Colgate (yes, that Colgate), and have been continually working as a 'temp' the past few months while sourcing the next phase of my life. 

And, I have re-discovered my art. I stopped drawing when my father died when I was 17. And, I really truly thought I would never draw again. And yet, here I am noodling around again and even answering ads for work on art job sites. I don't think that I can adequately express how profound that is for me.

And, of course, I have friends both on and off line... and that makes a tremendous difference.

I will get through my own migration to whatever is in store for me next. And we will all get through this time in our country. We will arrive on the next shore together. Perhaps a little rougher around the edges than we'd like to be, but it will eventually be a new world filled with new adventures. I don't know what any of that will look like.... but I'm taking the advice of Rob Brezny for this week and trying to enjoy the ride. :) 

Pisces (February 19-March 20)
For renowned Piscean visual artist Anne Truitt (1921–2004), creating her work was high adventure. She testified that artists like her had "to catapult themselves wholly, without holding back one bit, into a course of action without having any idea where they will end up. They are like riders who gallop into the night, eagerly leaning on their horse's neck, peering into a blinding rain." Whether or not you're an artist, Pisces, I suspect your life in the coming weeks may feel like the process she described. And that's a good thing! A fun thing! Enjoy your ride.


Laying It Out For You Re: Christmas Decorations

Spoiler alert: this is not a post complaining about setting up Christmas decorations before we're 'supposed' to (ie just after Thanksgiving). In a world where Presidential elections get rolling roughly two to three years ahead of time, now that the genie is out of the bottle of getting the Xmas decor up as soon as Halloween has taken its final breath, it isn't going to go back in. 

Radiocity2018No, this is actually going to be a blog post supporting ECD (Early Christmas Display). 

So, here's the thing - life in general is hard as it is. And, I think that no matter where you land on the political spectrum, I hope that we can, at least, agree that hmmmm things aren't going so well for the world right now - on edge and anxious.

(And, if you are one of those people who think that everything is honky dory, I kind of pity you.) 

In any event, I don't know about you, but I could use some Christmas tree lights. I could use a few songs about loving each other better. I would love to see candy canes and reindeer and Santas. And not even really just Christmas - but these days, I could go for any culture or religion that parties and celebrates and reflects on their lives and finds good cheer. 

On my way home from my consultant job this evening, I passed by Radio City Music Hall and noticed that the big tree was already up on the marquee. It probably goes up at this time of the year every year, but this year it feels especially early and yet also especially welcome. For a moment, the tree acted like lighting a match did for the Little Match Girl - a momentary reminder that there are good things in the world. 

And then some idiot bumped into me - and I had specifically gone off to the side of the sidewalk behind a narrow area of scaffolding especially because I didn't want to be in anyone's way.. it's like they had to literally go out of their way in order to bump me. Yeah, what was that reminder again? 

But, all the days and weeks go by, the world will become lit up with good cheer; but my challenge to you is to not let the idiots ruin it for you. 

And, even more importantly, don't let everyone's high expectations of the season get to you - the stress will amp up, as it does every year, as more and more people become unglued about spending money, going to parties, making themselves and everyone around them completely miserable. 

But don't let them win. Just enjoy the holiday season in all it's glory - and if that means putting up your Christmas decorations now, and if that'll make you feel better, by all means do it. You won't get a complaint from me. 


Tuesday Morning - the Mom Blog

Good morning all - today, September 18th it's been 6 years since my mom, Joan, passed away after a long illness.

My plans today are generally to do what I do every day - job hunt and create comics ... but on this day I'll also listen to The Lawrence Welk Theme "Goodnight" song (a kind of "our song" thing) and, of course "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" song (which is the basis for The Joan Project). Mom also liked a lot of 1940s standards. My favorite, although I don't know if she liked it (although I suspect she did) is "I'll Be Seeing You".

Mom used to sing to herself while taking the curlers out of her hair in the bathroom - she standing there singing in her gorgeous voice while a cigarette smoldered in an ashtray teetering on the bathroom sink. The bathroom was tiny but had good acoustics and her quiet sound filled the room with joy. On occasion, I would sit in there with her and we'd talk about things. While strange, I suppose, those times are among those that I cherish, and the ones I miss most. 

Here's a pic from last year's remembrance of her - I went down to Riverside Park and enjoyed a little "mom and me" time. I was feeling particularly hopeless about a lot of things as I had, at that point, just finished some things in my life and was feeling a little bummed out about my life. To my surprise, Mom arranged for The Yellow to be presented to me in a way that was as big so that I couldn't possibly ignore it or write it off as 'coincidence'. No, I'm convinced that my mom chose to show me that she was looking out for me. And that mattered. 

Anyway, if your mom is still alive, consider honoring her with a phone call or note or even a visit. If she's not around any longer, I challenge you to make a list of all the ways in which she influenced your life. I will bet, in either case, you will be happy with the results. :) 

Have a great Tuesday! 


Happy Mother's Day 2018

In honor of my mom, Joan, gone nearly 6 years now, I'm posting a favorite set of photos of mine of her from Christmas 1994. I usually didn't have to persuade her too much to pose for a picture (she and I share that, I suppose) as long, of course, as she looked flawless, which she always did no matter what she was wearing, because that's just how she rolled. :) 

Happy Mother's Day to all moms today! 

Joan triptych

Busy Day at Casa Altenburg #ello

Good morning, friends - hope your week is starting out well and HAPPY MAY! 

ElloA few bits that I wanted to share with you today, notably that my Ello profile has reached 10,000 views this morning! Last summer I created a profile at Ello and started posting my comic strip. I didn't really understand that site that well and in the midst of job hunting and everything else, I kind of put it aside. During the past few weeks, I've been working a PT job which has afforded me a little extra time to 'move the needle' on a number of projects, including the comic strip. 

So, two or three weeks ago I returned to my Ello profile, added the more recent strips, and added hash tags. Maybe it was the hash tags but traffic zoomed. You know, for an artist of any kind, there's nothing better than the feeling that at least someone is paying attention to your work. It's certainly encouraged me (and don't we all need that from time to time, no matter what our field is?)

As May starts out, I'm home today managing some workers coming in from the super's office to figure out where the entry point is for a mouse I saw a couple weeks ago. Our frig is also being replaced. I moved in to my apartment in 2004 and by 2005 the frig was making such grinding noises that a guy I was dating at the time who was renovating his place in BedStuy commented that the frig would need to be replaced soon. It wasn't. Fast forward to two years ago when the frig started to drip and I hoped that would be enough to replace it. Nope. Flash forward to a couple weeks ago when the cooling system decided to falter and things started to go bad. And today will be the day that it finally gets replaced. Thankful for this happening at long last! 

Now, before you can say "SpAAHHngeBob Squarepants", I have to get back to resumes, drawing, moving furniture out of the way, etc. I'm kind of not sure how they are going to get the frig through my narrow down and down a narrow entryway... but they got the last one in some years in the past (way before I moved in) so although it may be like Pooh in the rabbit hole, it'll happen. Will report on this tomorrowish. 

Have a fab day all!