Friday, December 30, 2011

My life with Lisa Carver....a review, of sorts, about her new book and why you should read it, even if it makes you uncomfortable

This is Lisa Crystal Carver. 

In the 90's, Lisa was my hero. She wrote this amazing zine called "Rollerderby". To say it spoke to me is an understatement, a dismissive wave of the hand, a failure to convey to you just how important every word she wrote was to my 20 year old self. I can still pick up a copy and devour it, lickety split and be transformed back to a time when it was acceptable to drink whiskey from the bottle and rip my baby doll dress while making out with my boyfriend in the bathroom as David Yow is puking in the sink between songs. Every night was an adventure, free and young, torturing myself and everyone around me with manic gone awry. I related to Lisa because she documented her adventures in her zine as if she was letting you read her diary. The things I thought about she wrote, talked and sang about. I wrote her letters and stopped being so afraid to be who I thought I was. When she wrote about music, I listened. When she wrote about New Hampshire, I dreamed about it. I saw wolves and giants and naked blood lust. I saw angels and twirling. She was a muse, I hung her high above me and reached for her. My 20 year old self didn't understand why we connected, why I love her so, why what she writes speaks to me. I couldn't. 
I met her when Suckdog came to Kentucky. She wrote about it in Rollerderby. I was drinking whiskey with my first husband, Jim. We were not well behaved. I liked her a lot. She was funny. I think we scared her, though I can't be sure.

As her writing career flourished, I followed it. When she wrote for magazines, I bought them. I read The Lisa Diaries and still, the voice always spoke to me. I wondered what was happening with Lisa, with Wolf, her son. She had a daughter, Sadie, too. I also had a son and daughter. I thought about Lisa and her family and what they must be like. How did her head work thru the normal things? I had such a struggle with myself, I was always amazed at her floating, writing, mothering, having the power to be all of those things and do them so well. She is beautiful and strong and outspoken. She says what she means and sticks to it, even when it isn't what is expected from Lisa Suckdog. You know Olivia Newton-John's character, Kira,  in Xanadu? She is like that! You can't see the rollerskates or the magic flowing out of her fingers, but you know it's there.
Lisa started a project last year that I followed via Facebook. She painted every day and would post pictures of what she had painted. The first few paintings were very childlike, very basic and almost like sketches with paints. The more she painted, the more her style grew with her subject matter. While I didn't always understand what Lisa was painting, I liked watching her grow thru the paintings. It seemed like every time she posted one, she told a little more of her story. I was pretty sure she didn't care if anyone else "got it", she was getting it and that's why she kept going. I honestly didn't expect to see them all in one place at one time. I didn't expect she'd sell every single one, either. I never thought I'd have one sitting on my bookshelf, a gift from my first husband's wife, my son's stepmom, the incomparable Jax. I cherish it. I also didn't know that Lisa was unlocking secrets, the kind you keep from yourself.
Lisa at 16 possibly.

What happened after kinda surprised me, too. Lisa had asked for ideas for her next painting. Jim challenged her, who knows how it was worded, but Lisa's next subject matter involved me, my beautiful gift painting, Jim trying to steal said painting and Jax coming after him. Talk about a surreal moment- I had no idea it happened until I saw the photo of the painting. I really like the way she pictures my room. and she painted me defensive and I like that, too.

The way Lisa writes is personalized. Not like mail order pencils, more like because she writes about herself, I feel like I know her. Even when I know I don't, I still feel like I do. I have heard about her family and her exploits. I mean, she has a whole book about her sex life. Of course, we all think we know her. The truth about that is I don't know Lisa. I have hung out with her, I have seen glimpses of personas and craziness and whatever she wants me to see. That may or may not be who Lisa is.

"When I first started painting, I couldn't break the habit of words, but I painted over these after." - Lisa Carver

Lisa has a new book. 

No word title. Just the blank. It features the 100 paintings she did. The one I have, the one you may have, the one of me, Jim and Jax. The paintings tell a story.  We were forewarned by Lisa that others who had attempted to read her book had been properly horrified or cried and couldn't finish it. I was thinking of the words other people, like NY Times book reviewers, may use to describe Lisa's book.
"gripping" "raw" "gritty" "a glimpse of...."
Strangle-Hands by Lisa Carver

She had us try to guess what her book was about on a special Facebook page to promote the book. I saw a lot of guesses about feminism and power and sex, a lot of hitting on Lisa by random guys. What I didn't see was anyone guess that Lisa's book was about Lisa. Someone may have guessed, I just couldn't keep up with the 100's of posts everyday. 

I had no idea what I was in for when I asked Lisa's publisher if I could review the book for my blog. I was sure there would be the paintings, pretty sure Lisa would have random musings, maybe some sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, probably some mentions of her family. Maybe it would be a short story fiction, Lisa style. At the very least, I knew I'd be entertained, maybe live a little vicariously thru Lisa, hopefully get to interview Lisa just because I like her and it would be fun. I knew my mom wouldn't like the book, or I was pretty sure she wouldn't.

"you can't see scars on white people because they're white." -Lisa Carver

When I opened the file, I had a gut instinct that something about this book was very different. The Table of Contents divided the book into sections (When I got Parts and Things Got Worse, The Lone Horsegirl of the Apocalypse) and as I scanned thru the names of the paintings("Come Inside, I’ll Kill You, You’ll Kill Me","Wrists Attack Razor"), I felt a disturbance in my core, a yearning, a squirm kicked up like a warning, the kind right before Michael Myers slashes up the kids making out on the couch (and I like it), the uneasy watching salad fingers gives me, the feeling that I shouldn't like this, but I am going to anyway and it's going to make me feel disturbed in the most pleasant comfortable way. Somehow, I am going to twist into this and it will feel like part of me, like my dog dying, like squeezing the bruise, like pins and needles, I should be afraid, but I'm not. I shouldn't feel happy, but I do. What is wrong with me? Nothing is, I just like feeling uncomfortable. I'm used to it. I've grown accustomed to it. I rely on it.
"Jim Stuck In The Window Trying To Steal Tiny Painting"

The cover page has statistics about child prostitution and I knew what the book was about instantly. I thought back to Lisa's writing, her drug use, her promiscuity, her crazy stage antics, the boyfriends, the rage, the adventures.The things about Lisa I related to, but didn't see. The signs of abuse were obvious, like strippers with daddy issues. I started reading- about abuse that started when Lisa was younger than my own daughter. About horrible things her father made her do and the way she learned to cope her way thru the abuse, the way he controlled her and everyone around him. I hated him. The more I read, the more I hated him. I hated the men in the cars and her father's girlfriends. I hated the mom who kept taking her back there. There was suspense, waiting to see how she would come out of this. I didn't want to read the details of the abuse. She is a master manipulator and somehow had kept me in her grasp, choking and gurgling on every word. Luring me back with a calmer moment, then throwing me back in to that hole, writhing while she learned to be still and starry eyed.

 Then it changed. It stopped being Lisa explaining her abuse. Learning to adapt to survive is something lifetime movies get made about, it's the core of the good guy saves the girl movies. It's pretty much the plotline for every episode of Law & Order. The big, powerful man saves the weak girl from whatever is hurting her. There are grand promises and one liners and in the end, the girl testifies and the bad guy gets hauled off to jail and everyone is happy crappy. Cue a music swell and a fatherly detective with tears in his eyes.

The hero here isn't what you expect. The victim isn't, either. The story isn't over because I think it's just beginning.

Wounded, an animal will chew it's own leg off to get out of a trap, a human will chop of his arm with a pocket knife. We can all understand those situations in their context and perhaps imagine ourselves doing the same thing. We will watch the movies and the awards will be passed out, but under the canopy of the "I had to do it to survive" is a tiny tent, off in the distance. One of those I see it out of the corner of my eye, but when I look directly at it, I question whether it's really there. 
Lisa contorts to survive. The sexual abuse, it feels wrong to write this, becomes secondary to the roles she plays, the actress she has to be, the division of herself into parts and knowing which role to play. No wonder we don't know Lisa, she doesn't know who we want her to be. Picking out the pieces through the paintings, piecing a memory full of holes back together, watching the different girls divided, paraded through her mind, deciphering what's real, what's true and what's the unicorn. What really happens when you are twisted into a nightmare and don't know it's a nightmare.
That is what my 20 year old self didn't know because I didn't know.
When I live in a parallel place to where others reside, I don't know it's happening. I don't know your life looks different. I just know mine. I don't know that I am performing a delicate dance inside a structure I created to protect myself from myself, from my environment, from the bad people mothers are supposed to warn us about. Lisa's words scratch at my surfaces, bringing the secrets up. The paintings unleashed them, her words wrapped them into packages with brown paper, each labeled "Lisa" and as each twine is cut, a new Lisa comes out. That's how she lived, survived and moved on. Pummeled by waves, just keep swimming.
Now, it's all laying here, in front of me, ink on paper, vivid hues dance the stories onto canvas small enough to be insignificant, but large enough to be important.
I wonder still how she juggles it all, the filing system, how the rage didn't turn her very dark, like her father. Or very aloof, like her mother.
Lisa Carver saved herself. She made nesting dolls for each girl, she rolled them up and away like undressed paper dolls tucked into the heating vent. Who knows when they'll be discovered or if they ever will. When the heat comes, they blow. She didn't have a knight in shining armor rescue her, whisk her away to his castle on a white steed. She didn't burn at the stake, at least not enough to kill her. She may have some scars and battle wounds, but we all do. Bravely, she picks the scabs and shows us the inside. Then, instead of picking at them some more, she is letting them heal. That is how and why and what.
While the girl inside of me still loves the Rollerderby, the crazy, the stab you with her eyes Lisa, the 39 year old me embraces the grown up she has become, the mother, the saviour of herself.
I like her hero. Like my own hero, she has been right there all along. We just had to dig her out of the wreckage.

"I hope that, for the people who have something buried inside them, something in the book will reach down deep enough to stir it up a little. Which is very uncomfortable, if not excruciating. I mean, that stuff is buried for a reason. But it's lonely. Don't hide it your whole life as if it's too shameful to live forever. That's like saying you're too shameful to live. And that's not true for anyone."
-Lisa Carver

You can get Lisa's book from:
You can also buy Lisa's music from her band, Suckdog, and the site also says all 25 issues of Rollerderby will be available, some in print and all in PDF format. 
You can follow Lisa on her Facebook page and also on __________'s Facebook page.
Lisa has an ebay shop, too!
Check out Lisa on Wikipedia cos it is just cool she is on Wikipedia.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I made this!

Here are some things I made...

awesome Owls....



I made the bag and the child!
Cos every one needs a fancy bag, they just do.
Stockings for those who had none...
Turtles for those who have love.
Aprons to show you care...
about whether or not your friends get dirty when they cook you up a fabulous meal!
We all need a little fancy!
or a lot practical! This is how happy customers become friends.
and happy friends become happier....
sillier. lovelier. bestiestestest.....
how little dogs make me smile!
little kids are the best! they can't hide joy! they share it with us so graciously!
that's why making stuff for the small ones is so great.
making each one special, but different. close to the same enough that there are no fights....
but different enough to know which one is "mine!"
A generation of dolls, passed down.
from mothers to daughters to granddaughters.
to Grandpas.
Thank you for all of your love and support in 2011.
Next year is going to be even better!
That's what the Robot said, anyway.
I believe her.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Merry Merry

 I love yard decorating! I just do! We are so tacky with our Christmas...we may never know when to stop, but once you plug it all in, it just doesn't matter cos it's so pretty.

 The head moves. Everyone knows it isn't real. Still, it's head moves. When we finally put this one to rest, the motor that makes that head will move can be used for good.
 Someone threw that Santa away a gazillion years ago and I dug it out of their garbage, repainted it, put sand in the bottom so it's too heavy for me to carry and it's been ours ever since.
 So quiet, so pretty....
 Stoked kids are the greatest!
 Annoying Orange from her brother. He always gets her the best presents..
 I wish Matt Smith would have showed up in my stocking, but that would have been awkward. I mean if Mommy kissing Santa Claus caused problems, can you even imagine Mommy kissing the Doctor?!
 Seeeeee, best gifts come from big brothers. always.
 We had a Whovian Christmas around here. Glad Amy Pond stayed outta his stocking....
and that is how much I love my new Doctor Who shirt!
At the end of a long Christmas Day, the Angels slept.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

dreaming of ships

I fell asleep to the sound of the waves, lightly tossing me in my sheets. I dreamt of pirate ships and mermaids, of burly men falling overboard, lured by siren songs...of sword fights, starboard sides...sharks swimming under the plank.

Blame it on the rain, on the Doctor Who episode I fell asleep to, the seriously 1000+ houses I looked at online, none comparing to the Dream House, of course. I think I'll just enjoy it...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I do not always know God's plan for me. I have to Trust him with a faithful heart. My heart wants to believe. Sometimes, my head gets in the way. Things happen, like you wake up one morning a week before Christmas and a member of the family is sick and can't move. Her body is telling us it can't keep up with her spirit any longer. and I want to question if my simple human mind has a better idea. Yesterday, I didn't have a better plan. Unless crying hysterically is a plan. I'm pretty sure it isn't...

Ten years ago, I was going thru a painful divorce. My son was one. I had two dogs I adored, but couldn't take care of. I had to give them to friends. I moved in with my boyfriend in his bigger house in Blue Ash with his two dogs. A lot happened then...I self-medicated and struggled. I missed my house, I felt like a failure and I missed my dogs. 

Mocha loved me from the minute I came here. She followed me everywhere! Her sister, Whiskey, was not so accepting. She barked at me, she hid from me, she whined when I was in the room. then she would ignore me. Not Mocha! She went with me to the grocery, she played ball in the yard with me. She was my girl! When I grabbed my car keys, she followed me out the front door and hopped in the car. I never needed a leash, she never ran off. She stayed by my side.She played with Will when he got big enough. She slept in his room. She woke me in the morning with her nose. 

You see, God gives me what I need when I need it. It isn't always what I want. Sometimes I don't even know I need it until way after the fact. I am glad he has a plan and that I have stepped out of the way. Even if that plan means Mocha's dog form here on earth has come to an end. How can I deny her Dog Heaven? How can I be angry that she gets to sleep with other DOg ANgels and run around on legs that work? Eat with a tummy that works! Not have weird itchy skin anymore...not be afraid of loud noises and hide in the know, when I think about it this way, what a beautiful plan for her! 

I miss my girl this morning. I know she's in good hands. I am thankful for the time I got to spend with her. I love her!

Proverbs 19:21, "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (NIV)

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Dog Mocha

All Dogs Go to Heaven
Goodnight one last time,
my dog Mocha...
little unconditional love girl.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

the morning after...

Last night, I sat down with all of the gifts I have to deliver. You know, the custom orders. The beautiful things people ask me to make for them in exchange for currency.
I did something that surprised even me this season. I wrote out every order, put dates on it and then wrote out a calendar for each item. I made them sequentially. I stuck to the plan.  These are just some of the results. The pictures are here only because the friends have already seen them...

 My lovely friends entrusted me with their children's gifts...I met Gunn playing with the band Incline District, If you know me, you know I am mildly (ha) obsessed with Incline District! The fellas are just so nice! and dreamy! and fun to be around! I got a message from him wanting traditional stockings for his three girls. Now, I am anything but traditional. I have made a lot of stockings this year...a lot. When someone I admire and care for asks me to make them for their children, something changes the process. Putting those girls names on there, I can picture them with their puts the passion into them. It makes me love making stockings, even when the number has reached well over 100. The love I feel for my friends goes into each piece, woven into the fabric and threads...
 My friend, Sean, was one of my first custom orders. I made bird pillows for his mom last year. This year, he asked me to make these for her....You may remember my sewing machine going out on me last year. I was heartbroken that my 18 year old Singer, Nina, was biting the dust. I didn't have the money to repair her and I was using my sister's loaner (which I still have- thanks, Beir!). Sean surprised me with not one, but two machines! A beautiful White who I named Marilyn. She is so trustworthy & she works so hard. She is getting ready for maintenance..but she helped me make these first.
 My first turtle making experience ever! I loved making these little guys so much! I made a first set of prototypes, I worked out every kink in my pattern, I poured my heart into these fellas- they are embroidered and hand stitched! My mission was 12 Baby Loggerhead Turtles, newly hatched, to approximate scale. Here they are. 
 Now, I am not a felter. I am not a knitter, although it's on my list of interests I haven't attempted yet. 
 AS you can see, there are wet felted eggs in this photo. My first attempt ever at wet felting! Alpaca Wool is a funny thing and I have to admit, I am kind of smitten with it! I had fun making the eggs and I now look forward to Easter for different reasons than you may think...see, my sketchbook, my brain, my heart are full of new ideas! I didn't stop in the middle of my custom orders this year and make my hearts desires as they popped up! I stuck to the plan, I have a few orders still in the works. My plan says I'll be done with all of those on Monday and all of my children's gifts on Tuesday. 
 My long time friend, Jeff, came to my house 3 years ago on Fourth of July. He brought his beautiful son, Max. We had a ball! It was so good to see him and meet his darling child, watch him be a dad. Things, events in Jeff's life mirror my own and it has been awesome watching the miracle happen to Jeff. From afar, since he lives up north. Thank God for FB, that great wireless connector of friends. I get to keep up with Jeff. I got to make him this for his someone special! Hopefully, we'll get to meet her and spend some time with him soon!
(*hint hint, cleveland boy!)
 As you may have noticed, I have a blue mannequin. Isn't she lovely? Pear fabric! The colors in this make me feel soothed- my friend, Bree, requested this and the Damask apron. Bree hosts a fantastic radio show- Queen City Awesome on 95.7 FM. If you don't know about it, you should! She interviews local bands and plays local music. Occasionally, there are some bands on who are playing in town! She is also in one of my favorite local bands, Slack Panther! Did I mention she is a hoot and one of my favorite people to be around?! 
 Damask and Hot Pink! What little girls are made of when they grow up a bit!
 My dearest bestie, Adam, introduced me to his family last year.
 I get nervous around parents. I don't know why, I just do! But his parents felt like hanging out with my parents, so we instantly hit it off! His mom is precious- Queen of her home, her fellas pretty much dote on her and she is mom of one of my favorite people. When she asked me to make aprons for her friends, I surged with pride. What an honor! She let me pick the fabrics with vintage feeling as a guideline...
 She wanted three, so I made six! ha! I wanted her to pick. I ended up picking my three favorites for her!
 I love the reds, whites and blues! 
This one was the first one I made. It's a new design. I'm still working it out. I think it's adorable!

I have to head out this morning to go GC shopping. Not everyone on my list wants the things I like to buy, so off I go. To KTC. To places like Pottery Barn and Hallmark. Every day, my orders come in from Etsy and Think Geek. I wish all of my gifts were coming from Everybody's Records. I put out all of the gifts on the table last night and realized for the first time ever, I am not stressed out about Christmas. I won't be rushing around for the next week, trying to finish up everything. I did it! I have a little business I love! My kids are well kept :) Everybody has been fed and Holiday plans are in place. I stuck to the list, the plan and guess what? It turns out it is a pretty good one, I'd like to thank God for giving me the plan every morning. Funny how his ideas work out better than mine. Pretty much every time....

So, I'm ready for the Holidays. Our lights are up, the tree is decorated, I am wrapping gifts a week before hand instead of at 3 am on Christmas Eve. I am spending time with my friends. I am sewing for pleasure. I have the money to have both Marilyn and Matilda serviced, thanks to my awesome friends who buy the creations I make! I may even have enough to get the old girl Singer, Miss Nina, fixed! I am going to take my kids visiting, we are going to have play dates and you know how I have always wanted to just send people things just because I can? well, I am. 

I am not going to live forever, this I know for sure. The past year of my life has changed everything for me. I am remembering everyday that God has a plan for my life. What I want may or may not have some bearing on it. or in it, really. What matters today is the time I get to spend with you, the love we get to share and how close I am to God. The rest has already been taken care of. 

I share with you, my loves, some of my favorite Christmas melodies...