Monday, October 25, 2010

Perfectly Alone in Weehawken

Perfectly Alone in Weehawken

Host: Kirstin Kapustik – Dancer/Choreographer/Personal Trainer

Weehawken, New Jersey/Manhattan, New York

“Perfectly Alone”

Along the western shore of the Hudson River is a tiny township offering an expansive glance at the daunting spectacle that is Manhattan – at a third of the cost. The sky scraping scene best resembles a childlike Lincoln Logs construction at this distance (as Kirstin so playfully and aptly stated), and yet is a continuous reminder of how prepared one must be before entering the concrete jungle. The City as it is commonly known is truly a different world.

Nonetheless, Weehawken offered a quaint alternative to the maddening pace of New York City. You can still hear the non-stop blaring of ambulance and police sirens from the living room in Kirstin’s charming apartment, but it’s different in New Jersey. The car theft is rampant and the gang violence is felt from nearby Union City, but it’s not quite as cumbersome as is the case in my neck of Alphabet City. What is more, it all feels different now that I am months removed from the unrelenting lunacy that was my East Village dwelling. The Martyst Exchange has introduced me to how wide the world really is. There is so much more out there than that which I had grown accustomed.

Kirstin’s indisputable talent has provided her with an opportunity to do that thing that she loves, in addition to, a million other things that she likes. Her hectic to-do list would drive an ordinary human insane. Even so, her frenzied schedule best epitomizes the life of a metropolitan area resident.

I witnessed her modern dance prowess live a couple of years back in Tallahassee, while she was in the process of completing her graduate study at Florida State University. She is truly a remarkable performer. It brought joy to my eyes then to see her doing what she loved, and more so now to see her making a living doing more of the same. I admire her and am motivated by her energy.

Given that my mind has been wrought with thoughts of my family and our collective future, I admit to being very little fun in terms of going out in Jersey. In fact, I only left the house when it was absolutely necessary. I hoped to have more to offer my host and her wonderful roommate, but came up empty night after night. Instead, I fully engrossed myself in my work.

I found that I needed to address the inextricable links between myself and my host, as I found the similarities most intriguing. To begin, we both were able to humorously address our deepest insecurities by poking fun at one another. My diastema, which was the bane of my childhood and continues to alter the normal course of my adult life, was the root of many gap related jokes. Her eyes (an extremely beautiful shade of green) now protrude uncontrollable due to her recently diagnosed Graves’ disease. I admired how candidly she spoke about the disease, her concerns, and her new reality. Her eyes are still beautiful, but for a time – will be a little different. I made sure to quip about her eyes just as open and honestly as she quipped about my teeth. It was a wine induced bout of gut busting hilarity.

For the painting I wanted to address these two “issues” in one collective conscious along with an overarching theme of our insane lifestyles – that seem to work perfectly for us and make no sense whatsoever to onlookers. To further implicate my fixation with the perception of “flaw” I chose a piece of wood to paint on that had numerous cracks and impediments. These all could have easily been fixed with wood putty (as I have done in the past), but I wanted to keep the imperfections. I feel that they speak volumes of the work’s underlying theme. I decided to paint a central frame that symbolized the splicing of two scenes. At the top was an abstract of a female figure with eyes protruding, smirking coyly, while beings overhead look on hysterically. The scene below features several abstractions of diastemata and reoccurring gaps in geometric shapes. The symbolism implies that the gap is an unavoidable, yet fixable circumstance that one has chosen to deal with. By placing the two hysterical figures above I can deal with the overarching theme which is that both of us have learned not only deal with our insecurities, but more importantly that we have moved forward, creating lifestyles that best suit our greater interest. In the process we may spend a great deal of time alone, but neither of us is lonely. What is more, we relish our down time – alone. Though I can only speak from what I became cognizant of and what I observed in her, it appears that we are very similar in this intriguing way. There was a peculiar pleasure in the solitude. Maybe The City makes you that way. Who knows?

What I do know is that I enjoyed my time in Weehawken and wished to be a better guest for my charming host. I sincerely apologize to her (and her equally energized roommate) for living mostly inside of my own head. My mind has been set on family for quite some time now. It is probably best that I will be able to spend time with my mother, sisters, and brother before venturing back out into the wonderful world for more intriguing Exchanges.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Home" for the Holidays

Hello Steadfast Dreamers,

I appreciate the emotional support that has come from all angles of the world. Your kind words resonate positively in my everyday effort to keep on – keeping on. It has been a stressful period of adjustment for myself and my family not only during this stint of unknowing, but for quite some time. With all of us, there are times of emotional unrest. It is imperative that we are reminded that certain circumstances are merely a part of life, far beyond our mortal control. I am one of many who finds himself looking for answers during uncertain times.

Given the time to mull over the options available to me, I have decided to postpone my Canadian travels in hopes of being closer to my family for the holidays. That being said, I still feel that it is pertinent that I continue with the Martyst Exchange. (Toronto friends – I will be there before the end of Spring 2011)

Therefore, it is with great humility that I make a very specific request for hosts in: Chapel Hill/Carrboro, North Carolina.

Being close enough to my family during these significant times (holidays, little sister’s birthday, etc.) will afford me the occasion to repair the tumult I have left behind, while providing me with enough distance to continue my work. I am open to traversing as many host sites at 7-30 days stints as needed to guide me from November 2nd – December 28th.

I appreciate any help that you can offer me. Your continued support is most appreciated during this struggle to create in the midst of uncertainty.

Your optimism is contagious,

*Please view the “About Me” section to the right for direct contact information*

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finding Strength in Durham

Finding Strength in Durham
Host: Cory Taylor – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, M.P.H. candidate/Disc Jockey
Durham, North Carolina
“1,000 Apologies (For Making Your Brown Eyes Cry)”

Cancer is a terrible disease.

I sat idly by the phone waiting for my Austin, Texas host to contact me so that we could discuss the extenuating details of the exchange and finalize my flight plans. That call never came. This would prove to be the first hiccup in a glitch-free tour of artistic and real world discovery. Eventually, my phone did ring and the call was much more significant. The voice was that of my youngest sister informing me that my mother’s health was fading, fast. Any time spent disheartened by the missed opportunity to revisit one of my favorite cities during one of the world’s largest music festivals, was short lived. Losing my mother was something I did not want to consider, but was becoming a common discussion amongst family members. Austin, or the host that should have been, were no longer relevant.

I was ill prepared to consider life insurance disbursements, a guardian assignment for my little brother (11 years old), or funeral arrangements. There I was, still depressed about not being able to attend SAIC, dejected by the fact that I had recently lost a wonderful girlfriend (and prototype for “ever after”) chasing a dream, and now the worst possible thing rears itself – potentially losing my mother to a fatal disease that is slowly weakening her ability to perform basic activities. Watching her struggle to take the stairs made me feel selfish for not becoming a corporate lawyer and limiting my artistic creativity to a time permitting hobby. Then, I would be better prepared to provide for my family. Instead they are all sacrificing in hopes that my dream comes to fruition. I feel like I am losing everything and that nothing may come of it, but a lifetime of wondering – ‘what if?’

My time with family and friends, found me in my home away from home: Durham, North Carolina. I must admit to being annoyed with the ceaseless teasing about my being back… what Durhamites fail to realize is that I am sensitive to such statements not because I dislike Durham; rather, that I am only ‘back’ in Durham because of my mother’s health. If she was a healthy 51 – year old, I would be long gone. In truth, I love Durham; but I could never live there. It’s just not suited for my growth.

Being reacquainted with the Downtown rumor mill that seems more befitting of immature junior high schoolers than high income earning adults reminded me of why I had to leave in the first place. Sadly, not much has changed. Much of the talk surrounds things that don’t matter much. I am sure that this is the way of every little world, but it is particularly annoying – and enduring, in Durham; mostly, because I am familiar with the individuals involved. I expect so much from the inhabitants of my little city. Maybe I am too hard on them.

Fortunately I was able to benefit from a newly formed friendship with a fellow James Brown fanatic: Cory Taylor. Cory and I formed a musical bond that developed into something greater. To help me get my mind off of all the stress that was evidently derailing my artistic efforts, we joined forces to DJ a Beatles vs. Rolling Stones dance party themed: BeatleStones (result: draw – also debatable). The opportunity to play records, dance mindlessly, and enjoy the wonderful music, took me away from the real world – momentarily.

Cory welcomed me into his home and permitted me to begin creating multiple works. The work I was able to complete exemplified my feelings of loss and failure, most notably losing a woman that I love deeply and yet, have lost due to my selfish desire to chase a dream. Seeing her beautiful brown eyes cry because of my inability to find an artistic footing has become the root cause of my nightmares and current bout with insomnia. I hate having regrets and realize that losing her will be a lifelong struggle. Couple my losing the girl with watching my mother fight back tears so that she can appear strong for my little brother, and you have a world of confusion. Both women, two of the most important people to me in this world and you have very similar circumstances and an overwhelming feeling of failure.

I know that I don’t want to be a lawyer, but I wonder if what I want matters at all. I want to create. This is my internal struggle. This is my self doubting admission. This is the entry that details what it means to be a depressive Martyst. It’s not all lush landscapes, fun times, and bright colors. Most days it’s the real world crashing down making you distrust your every brush stroke. Somewhere, somehow – I continue to find strength. That being said I continue to feel selfish, especially when I observe my baby sister taking on the weight of the burden I have left behind. All of that responsibility was mine for many years. Now I see her struggling to handle the balancing act of following her dreams and taking care of home.

I hope to claim victory before the world claims my sanity.