Tag Archives: life

Living, Breathing Art

Contributor ~ Amanda Zober

You can find beauty in anything, art in the unlikeliest places; you can find inspiration to create anywhere you are, as long as you look for it. It can set you free, raise you higher than you’ve ever been before if you let it. With practice and passion you can turn your own life into your most valued and perfect work of art.

Music is your escape. You work to find the beat and rhythm in even the most mundane of tasks. It helps to calm the frantic beating of your heart; makes the chaotic mess of thoughts in your mind still, even if it’s for just one short moment, just enough for you to think clearly.

It took you a long time to get here, to be in this place in your life where you can truly say that you know who you are and you know what you’re doing with your life. There’s a list of reasons hiding somewhere in your past that once made you believe that you would never make it to this point in your life. There were people at every turn telling you that you would fail. There is a part of you that takes pride in the fact that you didn’t let their negativity get you; instead of resigning yourself to defeat, you used their hateful words to steel your resolve and turned it into motivation to prove them wrong.

Looking back, it makes you proud that you can say that you worked hard and earned your place in this world. While you aren’t in the forefront of the public eye, people still know your work; it’s anonymous, yes, but there are still people who are trying to emulate you. You take it as a compliment of the highest honor, after all imitation is the highest form of flattery.

If asked, you wouldn’t truly be able to define the type of artist that you are. There is no one specific skill set that you’ve honed to perfection. If pressed, you’d have to say you were a type of mixed media artist. There is music you compose while creating your art that no one will hear when they finally see the completed piece. What the news will eventually talk about is the paintings and sculptures that make up the finished product that is your creation.

You’ve traveled all over the world as discreetly as possible to leave your artwork in hidden alcoves, old parks, buildings scheduled for demolition, trying to leave something beautiful in places that people have long since abandoned. It gives you a sense of joy and happiness when someone stumbles across all your hard work and people come from all over to cover it as a semi-important new piece. It’s become something of a guessing game among the who’s who of the art world, and media at large to figure out who this mysterious artist is that has left magnificently detailed portraits and sculptures all over the world without having been caught yet.

There are still those neigh-sayers that are claiming your work to be vandalism; you just believe that they don’t quite know what art truly is. You’re trying to take the places that the world has forgotten and abandoned, and doing your hardest to make them into something again, something that people will flock to and talk about for generations to come. You’d say it could be considered street art in it’s finest form, but you wouldn’t like to give yourself a big head; cockiness would lead to you being found out, and you like being anonymous.

You like the idea of people judging and appreciating your art for exactly what it is, and not on who you are. Growing up where you did, and sitting on the edges of the more popular social groups, you know that people buy into the person selling the ideas and art more so than the art itself. That isn’t something you wanted. You didn’t want to become the brand that sold your work, you wanted your work to stand on it’s own and sell itself. You think you’ve done a pretty good job of that. With no one knowing who the artist is, all they can buy into is your art itself.

When you need to get inspiration for a new piece, you like to volunteer at community centers in whatever city you happen to be in at the time. You’ll pick up odd jobs at local dives, meeting the regulars and paying your way while teaching little kids about art. It’s a modest living, but you’re content with it. It’s a life free of obligations and demands.

When you do finally get an idea for what you’re next piece is going to be, you’ll ask for help from some of the older high school kids that you work with at the community center, and from some of the rough and tumble regulars from whatever place you’re currently working at. You try to find the more unsavory locals, the high school bullies, the angry old drunks, and short tempered women; you want to take these people who have such a hard time showing kindness to others, and show them how beautiful the world can be when you open your hearts to art. You want to be the one to make a difference for them, to change their views on the world. You put your faith in them to keep our identity a secret and so far no one has let you down in the decades you’ve been doing this.

You’re current piece has some great volunteers helping you. They are parolees and their probation officers thought it would be good for them to take classes at the center. They all seem to harbor a great deal of vitriol, and you know that both of them just want to see the world burn down around them. You’re hoping you can change that, even if they don’t seem to think all that much of you. Currently you have one of them sprawled out across a bench that seems to be decomposing in some areas.

You’re at a park a few miles out of the city; it’s been abandoned for more than a decade and the locals believe that it’s haunted. Most people don’t come here, but you know some curious teenager will investigate it sometime in the near future, like all teens do with local legends. They will discover your art and soon this poor old place won’t be so abandoned any more.

There is an old swing set that you want to be the focal point of this piece. You are thinking about modeling it after Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. It has taken some time, but you have figured out the logistics on how to make it work. You already have the stuffed arms and legs made, you just have to set up the torso so it hangs right on the old steal frame of the swing; after that. it’s just a matter of sewing the plush limbs onto where you need them to be.

You are covered in the thick paint you used to color the main body. It makes it a little harder to get the torso hung up right, with your hands covered in the slick sticky liquid. You’ve had to use fishing line to hold the head and the first set of arms into place. The first set of legs is perfect to be hanging straight down the way they are. Sewing on the second set of arms takes work. They are heavier than you’d anticipated, but you cut the seams on the shoulders so perfectly that it doesn’t take you too much longer than you anticipated to graft them onto the body. The second set of legs is easy after you got the hang of the arms.

Stepping back, the completed body looks better than you could have imagined when starting. The lines of the extra limbs flow seamlessly into the rest of the body. You couldn’t be prouder of how it looks, and now you just have to finish the cleanup and set up for the soon to be audience. Even though you won’t be around when they discover it, you still want to make sure people have a decent place to admire it.

You go to the bench your first volunteer as laying on. He’d had a rough day and was currently resting. Not wanting to disturb him, you gently try to clean away most of the paint he ended up covered in. He got a little messier than you’re used to but he’s also a lot more rough around the edges than your usual volunteers. You carefully set his limbs up on the bench so he’s more comfortable; you don’t want him to put unnecessary strain onto his body. Once that’s taken care of, you pack the rest of your supplies into your truck. There is a small lake next to the park that you decide to use to clean off the rest of the paint covering your body. You don’t want any of it to stain the inside of your truck; that would be a lot more work to clean it up later.

After you’re as clean as you’re going to get, you drive back to the motel you’ve been staying at. You don’t feel too bad about leaving your volunteers at the park. They had their own cars. This is the part where you get everything packed up and drift out of town like you were never there. By the time the sculpture is discovered no one will remember who you were, and your anonymous streak will continue.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Setting up in a new town, in a new country, you turn on the news to see your last sculpture had been discovered. The buzz on this one is the biggest yet. People are speechless and impressed by how well all the pieces fit together, and how perfectly it’s suspended between the bars of the swing set. Smiling, you reflect on the concerto you composed during the creation of that piece.

It was beautiful and heart breaking in how well the cries of your volunteers blended into the natural sounds of the wildlife surrounding you. Their gasping breaths as the life slowly faded out of them left you with chills, that you knew would just build up the suspense to the climax of your song. The buzzing of the saw thrummed through your veins as you removed the limbs from the shorter one. The cuts are made with a clean precision that has taken you years to master. His blood comes out faster and thicker than you’re normal volunteers. It paints everything a dark crimson that would look absolutely stunning on the main body.

Once you had the limbs, you had set him on the bench to rest until you need him again. The blood from his arms painted the main body perfectly as you attached them to here you needed them to be. It dripped down the torso in perfect rivulets. It was easier than you assumed it would be. The tricky part came with grafting to plush limbs onto the first volunteer. Fabric doesn’t blend as seamlessly into flesh as other flesh does. It took some careful arranging of clothes to cover the stitching so it wouldn’t be as conspicuous.

Once more the world was in awe of your art. No one could figure out how you did it, or who could be capable of such a masterpiece. You know you are now at the height of your career; everyone will be trying to figure out who you are. It was time to plan your biggest masterpiece; the greatest one to complete all you’ve accomplished. It will be your last major work, and then you’ll retire from the spotlight; leave them wanting more. Your greatest work will be your grand finale. With that in mind, you know you’re going to need a lot more volunteers to help you complete it. You think fifteen should work.

You turn off the tv; you have a masterpiece to plan.

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Metal Stained Crimson

Contributor~ Amanda Zober
As I look down at the pages in front of me, I can feel the ice cold metal of the blade slide. I see the scars across his hands and the blade slide across marred skin. The pages are filled with his self mutilation, scars from long ago and freshly healed wounds cover his flesh. I stare in shock at the book in front of me, not because of what he was doing, but because of the past that haunts me. The cold metal of a pointed blade slides across my skin, I can feel the blade as if it were truly there. The strong odor of iron fills the air; I can remember the pain and watching as blood flowed through the self-induced slit. I can remember reveling in the pain; enjoying every second of the stinging sensation moving throughout my body. I enjoyed the pain; it was what brought me peace of mind and something as close to a happiness that I’ve never known. I can remember watching as blood pooled around me, the water stinging the wound further; soon the blood stopped and everything was cleaned, the only evidence of what occurred were the scars covering the skin. I remember stopping and the blade disappeared, leaving me only a sick fascination with knives. I’m soon brought back to reality by the feeling of cold metal against my skin; the smell of iron filling the air and crimson pools surrounding me. In a state of unawareness the knife found my hand and the blade found my skin; I smile remembering the joy that my blood being shed gave me. I still feel the blades in my slumber, haunting me till the end of eternity, to never cease this joyous pain that I love.

Being an Adult Legally, Doesn’t Mean I Know What I’m Doing

Contributor~ Amanda Zober

I’ve come to a point where I have realized that I keep a lot of things to myself and I have trouble speaking out and putting my thoughts into words. I’m not exactly sure what I am doing with my life, nor do I have any idea on what it is that I want with my life. I’ve gone through the last year believing that I was content with how things were, but recently it feels like content became complacency. Somehow everything that I thought I wanted and everything that I was truly okay with, even six months ago, doesn’t feel right anymore.

I don’t quite know how to explain it. It kind of feels like the life I thought I wanted is coming together, but it now feels like someone else’s life. I still answer any questions about where I want to go like I would have before, only now it comes out as if it were rehearsed lines, continuously said until they are automatic responses. It feels like I am just parodying someone else’s life.

So when I try to fix things because I really just have no idea what I’m doing, I get called fake. And a whore and all this other shit. Okay, I have issues with a lot of people that I hang out with. I really don’t consider them friends. Well, some of them I do. So when everyone gets together, I try to have and not cause waves. Sometimes I lose my temper and I do say something, which causes things to backfire on me. Now I do try to be as genuine as I can, and sometimes things don’t go as planned, but I am trying. I have no idea what I am doing. School never really prepared you for real life and social interactions.

So here are some facts about me that no one really seems to understand.

1) I absolutely love horror movies, but I’d prefer to watch comedy.
2) I don’t like the idea of drinking too much, but I will keep drinking if it’s in front of me.
3) I hate the idea of being in a relationship. The idea of settling down makes me feel really sick, in a stomach curdling way. It terrifies me. Although I do want someone to go on dates with and be with. I like romance and I want it, but I can’t handle serious.
4) I am a very angry person. I hate how I used to lose my temper so I try to hide it and pretend that things don’t bother me. Now I have no clue how to even stand up for myself because I’ve tried so hard to hide that part of myself.
5) I really have no self confidence. It’s all false bravado and sheer impulsiveness.
6) I rush into things without thinking a lot, but I do try to think everything through. It just doesn’t work out very often..
7) Even if I cannot stand you and want absolutely nothing to do with you, I will be there to do anything for you if you ever needed my help.
8) I don’t do nice things for everyone to make myself look good. I do them because I feel incredibly guilty if there was something I could do and I chose not to.
9) I am very lazy! I work 60 hours a week and I dance, but when it comes to doing things in my personal life, I am just too lazy to bother half of the time.
10) I do not get along with my family all that well, but I will fight back if anyone else were to say anything about them.
11) I am not lying when I say I have a temper. I look quiet and small, but I’m mean. I know I am and I know that I have hurt good people for no reason. Just because you know me now and have never seen it, doesn’t mean the anger isn’t still there. I’m just better at controlling it now.
12) If I care about you, that’s it. Even if we aren’t friends anymore, I will always have your back if you need me to.
13) I know I am weird and I like abnormal things. I can accept that about myself. Doesn’t mean that I’ll hide my interest for your benefit.
14) I talk a lot of shit. You can bet your ass though, that I have said it to your face first and have made my position clear.

I really have no clue how to fix my social life. Letting go is hard for me. I have lost a lot of people and losing anyone else terrifies me. I try and give up. I go with the easier ways out sometimes because I am just so tired of fighting. My brain and heart go on over drive and everything gets so mixed up in my head that I have trouble remembering to breathe half of the time. So call me fake. I have no idea who I am or what I’m doing. I’m trying to figure it out as I go. I don’t know how I can be fake when I don’t even know who I am. It’s your judgement call; apparently you know me better than I know myself.

Waking Up

Back into the corner, breathe in. Anger, fire. It burns in your veins. It’s unfamiliar, and comforting. You’ve been here time and time before; the same thing day after day, but it has never made you feel like this before. It’s a welcomed change, and it confuses you. Looking up, you wonder if you ever even knew anyone that’s surrounding you.

At first, you never noticed anything was wrong. It seemed like everything was normal, subjectively speaking. They all seemed nice enough. They cared enough. And even if it was never what you imagined for yourself, it was enough. You gave up on feeling truly happy a long time ago, but you were content. You were okay with what you had. It wasn’t perfect and things didn’t fit as puzzle perfect as they did before. This isn’t then, this is now and now is enough for you.

Sometimes you would notice little things. Minute details that no one else seemed bothered by. Either they didn’t notice or you were the only one who felt that something was off, but you still didn’t know them all very well so you kept your mouth shut. Maybe it was just you. You have a different background than them. They grew up in another town and they have all known each other a lot longer than they have known you. For them, maybe this was the normal. You didn’t want to cause waves. You were content, and content was good. If the seeds of unease had been planted in your stomach, well you’d push those feelings down just like you always do.

You had been fighting for so long. Fighting for what you thought was right, fighting for what you thought you deserved, fighting for those that you care about, but it always seemed to bite you in the ass. It was easier to just let things slide, stomp down the building anger, bitterness and resentment, head down and hold your tongue; the world started turning a lot smoother. You just grew tired of fighting and the longer you bit back your every instinct to keep fighting in the name of keeping peace, you just forgot how to. After a while, you wonder how you managed to keep fighting as long as you did.

Slowly, bit by bit, things started slipping out of control. Every tiny piece breaking so quietly, so unobtrusively, that you barely even noticed. Every time you thought something was wrong, you just told yourself that it was all in your head. It was just you. Don’t bring it up. They will all look at you like you’re crazy, and it just isn’t worth it. Things aren’t perfect, but they are all just so nice and they seem to care; you don’t want to put a voice to your idle thoughts, lest they start to think of you differently. They didn’t seem to be as okay with you when you fought; when you voiced your opinions. They seem to like the calmer, go-with-the-flow you. You have to admit that you like the new control you have over your previously too potent temper. So you keep ignoring the little signs. It just isn’t worth it to fight.

The world keeps spinning, days blur into one another. You know you’re complacent and you keep convincing yourself that this is enough. You’re content. You don’t go to bed crying, temper consuming you, heart beating out of control with excessive adrenaline-induced energy, the urge to run until you can’t breathe anymore, with enough frustration burning through your nerves to singe anything you touch, you don’t have that anymore. The calm that the absence of it all leave, it’s strangely soothing. You’ve never felt this calm before and while you have made peace with many of your demons, you don’t quite feel at peace with yourself. You continue to ignore the growing unease. You’re content and that’s enough for you.

Things continue to break apart and you feel the pressure building inside you. It’s a torrent of confusion and warring emotions. You’ve gotten so used to suppressing your thoughts and feelings that everything swirling inside you just seems like ghosts of what they once were. Every once in a while, a taste of the fire you used to be so familiar with surfaces; it feels like you can breathe again, and a part of you feels whole again. That scares you. You tried so hard to not be that person again, the one who wanted to burn down everything around her in retribution to every perceived slight. You never want to be that angry, volatile person again. You’ve worked hard and now you are so amenable and docile that they all think your stories of who you were before them are a load of shit. They don’t outright say it, but you can see it in their eyes. You don’t take it like a bad thing; you’re proud that you have changed so much that they can’t imagine you being that person that you were. And it’s good. It’s still enough for you.

It continues to be enough. Head down, keep quiet, life goes on. Then one day you bump into something, look up and you wonder where the Hell you are. You wonder who these people are that you spent the better part of two years hanging around with every single week. You look at yourself and you wonder who the fuck that person is that’s staring back at you. Deep from the pit of your stomach, everything you have been keeping under lock and key surfaces. It feels so, so good and hurts you in all the right ways. It’s confusion and passion and anger and agony; it’s everything you didn’t know you missed and everything you never thought you’d want to feel again. And you do have trouble trying to reconcile who you were with who you are as the two finally mix. It feels like a part of you is finally waking up. You realize that you were settling; settling is never going to be enough.

You feel selfish and you hate that. You want to keep quiet, and you really are trying to, but now you can see the cracks, all the broken little pieces. How it has gotten so bad without you realizing it is beyond you. Everything seems so decayed and forced that you don’t know how you could have been fooled into thinking that everything was okay. A little thought runs through your mind, weird and oddly fitting in a sense. They were like a puzzle. All the pieces fit in the beginning, but over time, with age, the pieces warp, the colors fade. It still fits together for the most part, maybe not as well as it once had, but it’s still enough that you can pretend nothing has changed. Eventually time damaged the pieces too much, aged and different than they were at the start, but you still keep trying to force it because the memories of what it once was are good and you aren’t ready to give that up. It’s so broken beyond repair, but your nostalgia keeps you pretending. They can keep pretending but you can’t anymore.

You aren’t quite sure how to go about things. You realize that even though they seemed to care, they really don’t. They don’t know you; they know who they think you are. To them, you are all the pieces of their opinions that they put together of you until they truly believed that, that was really you. To them you are nothing but misconstrued ideas of the person they wanted you to be and the person they don’t like. It’s funny in a way; it’s almost laughable that you can spend so long around the same people, but you know absolutely nothing about them and they know nothing about you. It isn’t for lack of trying. You did. Try, that is. You tried to be their friend, tried to get to know them but they were always sidestepping and giving you just enough to think you were becoming real friends, without ever having to actually give you an inch. And you, you didn’t even know that you lost a huge part of yourself in trying to fit in with their broken pieces. You lost something that you now have back and you aren’t even sure what to do with it anymore.

You have been without your fight for so long that now that you have the will to do so back, you aren’t even sure you really know how to now. It’s an odd feeling. You want to call them out for all that they have hurt you, but you aren’t even sure they know what they did. To them, all of it was normal. To them, that is what friendship is. And you can’t fit your head around this warped idea of what care and love is supposed to be. You want to scream at them, make them see where you are coming from; make them see that something isn’t right. They are all falling apart, and they don’t even realize how badly they are hurting each other. They have gotten so used to their own pretending that they truly have no idea who any of them are now. They grew up without realizing how far they had grown apart. You don’t know if you want to be the one to bring it up. Despite it all, you do care about these people that you barely even know, and you don’t want to hurt them. Even though they had hurt you so deeply without you even knowing it, you can’t stand the idea of opening your mouth and telling them. It would cause a huge fight, and getting everything off your chest might just not be worth dealing the final blow to bring everything crumbling down. You can’t help but to rationalize what they did; you don’t know what will happen if you were to voice your thoughts, it would make things real.

You stay in your corner, taking another deep breath. You look around again before pushing away. Anger, frustration, love, hatred, empathy, fear, desperation, caring, desire; it’s all welling up into one big ball centered in your chest. And then you bolt. You run, because staying still isn’t even close to being an option anymore. You don’t know what you are going to do, just that you need to do something because things can’t stay the way they are. You don’t want to hurt them, as much as a part of you does, but not doing anything is just hurting you. That can’t be an option either. You may have lost the sense to fight for yourself, and you might still be trying to figure out if you are still something worth fighting for, but you know that you gave and continue to give your everything to them, and you don’t deserve to be hurt.

You still don’t know if you will ever know how to feel truly happy again. You aren’t sure if you’ll be able to find the right balance between the two halves of yourself. There are so many things that you just don’t know and aren’t sure of, but you do know that this type of content if slowly killing you, and you don’t want them to be the things that finally bleed you dry of everything you built your confidence and self-worth on. It isn’t your time to give up on yourself and suddenly, enough just isn’t enough anymore.

Contributor~ Amanda Zober

Daily Thoughts “What is an Introvert”?

This is something I have often pondered to myself, and many times I have come to the conclusion that it is a negative connotation. Especially with how others consistently look down on people whom are quiet or who don’t have a lot to say. I feel as if this assumption in itself is false, and can be misconstrued to be something that it is not. I have felt lately, as if an introvert is someone whom observes well. And is able to read the situation, and needs not put forth any sort of comments simply because they are constantly watching. Maybe they’re waiting for the right moment to speak? Maybe this could be seen as a sign of Wisdom? And in time, these individuals would be able to contribute something substantial. Or maybe not, maybe those people aren’t meant to, I see it more as that now then I ever have honestly. But that’s because I myself at times am an introvert, and can be silent to what is going on around me. I don’t see it as a bad thing, and I don’t think anyone should either.

Contributor- Chris Ballenger

Damned to Do

I close my eyes and breathe, pretend it’s all a dream. The trials, the errs, falling flat on my face after giving my all. It’s the words I didn’t say, the actions I gave you that I never gave before. It’s knowing who I am and expecting more than I am. It’s rushing to conclusions that I was foolish to believe. It’s trusting a heart that no longer beats.

I’m a hopeless person, hoping one day I’ll be okay. Believe me when I say I’m happy for you, because I am. No matter how conflicted it makes me feel, your happiness and peace of mind mean more to me than I myself do.

It’s in my nature to be bitter and vindictive. My base instincts to make to make you feel as disgusting, ensnared, licentious, as you made me feel. To sin is to err and I’m the Queen of the Damned. It’s in my blood; envy, lust, wrath, greed. To want you to want me in the same way, but not all sinners are as damned to do as I am. It takes a special type of sinner to put themselves through Hell in the name of punishment for being what they cannot change. False virtue can never turn the damned into Saints.

I never pretended to be a virtuous soul. Virtue is for the save-able, something I could never be; will never be. I’ve never been one to delude myself into believing I was something more than expendable, more than a placeholder for the more desirable someone they really wanted. I was the twit who, for a moment, believed I was something more than temporary. Those who believe contrary forget, all life is temporary; some of us more so than others.

The truth is, a sinner is a sinner; damned to do, damned to want, damned to love. The pious sinners masquerading as Saints, fooling everyone, including themselves, into thinking they are more than they are. The sinners who damn themselves for wrongs they can never forgive themselves for. I’m the Queen of the Damned, stuck paying for sins I’ll never be able to repent, but never will I believe I deserve more than I am. The sinner of sinners; living blind, learning to love the sins in my blood.

Contributor ~ Amanda Zober

Full Circle

Seems like falling down
Lost balance, hit the ground
Endless mistakes thrown in your face
It’s not right, it’s not okay
Rug swept out
All these doubts

Maybe it’s poetic
Maybe it’s pathetic
Karmis justice
Cruel Irony
Shakespearian dramedy

It’s gonna turn around
Can’t lose what you never found
No need to worry
The furture is stunning
You’ll hit the ground running
It’s coming full circle now

Don’t worry about the end
Everything will break or bend
Even when it feels the good is gone
\It won’t be that way for long
It all comes back around
And pieces together again

Contributor ~ Amanda Zober