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November 2018

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.