My cat, Stanley

My cat is Stanley Steinway II. He’s a beautiful, fluffy, adopted tiger-mix cat. He is amazingly uncoordinated for a cat, falling off tables, chairs, running into walls, doors, etc. I thought he might have a mental or physical imbalance, but alas this is his natural state. At first I thought his only exceptional trait was how handsome he was, but I was wrong. Stanley can open most doors. His skill and concentration can only be thwarted by a latch or lock, even then he won’t give up.

As I’ve been slaving over data entries for my new website, I’ve had to lock the office door. My concentration rattled by Stanley’s relentless attempts (many I might add). If Stanley could wish for anything for Christmas, he would ask for opposable thumbs. I pray that will never happen.


Website...what a pain in the butt!

I realized early on that in order for me to have a design based on-line business that I had to realize some limitations. I would love to go out on the circuit, meet my customers, get their immediate feedback, share personal stories one-on-one, but my health and pocketbook won’t allow it.

So how do I get my work out there? Unable to afford the cost of professional photography of my line, as well as the cost of a professionally designed website, I’m doing all the data entry and photos while my husband (between his working hrs.) handles the “hi-tech” duties of connecting all these entries. Luckily, we have a free website space through our phone service. It is restrictive in its templates, but we hope it will be inviting to the public.

If we ever get our website open, the next step is to have business cards printed with our info…maybe postcards with a larger picture of my work and info for a mailing campaign…getting my hands on a “creative” mailing list would be great. I noticed an ad in a national magazine where a rather ingenious artist had a small picture of a beautiful necklace priced reasonably and just her name and email and website info. I checked out her site and found that most of her line was table linens and aprons. She had only a few necklaces, but with that one small and very visually appealing ad, I bet she made her rent and MORE.

If there is anyone out there who is going through this same pain, or has gone through it, I need to know your stories…good or bad. (knock, knock…anyone out there?)


My Slightly Altered Dream

When I was younger, I think I must have been a bit insufferable. Self-centered, selfish, tactless and so “professional” that that stick up my ass was something I thought I was born with. You would think that if I had a dream to have my own creative business that “professionalism” would be an asset. Strangely, I was too energized and spastic to focus any “one” thing.

I’m older now and have had to slow down due to some health concerns. I’ve always been creative and practical. So when I wanted to lean on my art for mental survival sake alone, I wanted to find things to do that I could sell and profit from. Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to be the next “hottest thing” in the market, I want to concentrate on being realistic. I don’t have the capital nor the physical stamina to get involved with the craft show circuit.

I started out by researching the concept of an art business. I got a subscription to “Craft Report”. To be honest, it just made me feel inadequate and ill prepared (“slap”,”slap”…sound of reality striking). But I already had the subscription, so I just kept reading, viewing ads, and trying to see the advice that hardcore artisans were giving freely… okay, the subscription was hefty, at the end, well worth the investment. I bought a book, “The Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business” (Friedman & Yorio). Don’t get freaked by the pink girly look of the cover, it’s chock full of business concerns that are both readable and doable. I had to go to my accountant anyway for my tax preparation, so I asked her if there was any advantage to having my small in-house business… what can I say, she got as excited as I had when I first contemplated this option.

But I had to commit to this “dream”… I started to “create” a line of items that I was proud of and that I truly had fun making. My first task was to see if I could create a solid line of stock. I then started the necessary applications…in my case, applications for home occupancy, resale license, and business license.

My next step is to create my own website. As a more immediate task, I’ve created this blog first. First to show some of my work, but also in hopes of getting feedback, talk about off-the-wall stuff that I find rattles in my brain. If anyone out there can give me pointers on a website, I can use any and all help.

The website is the next big key…I can’t get my business cards made till I know the website. I looked at other blogs for help and found my favorite , amypeters.blogs.com/ She gave practical options to those of us who can’t do the trade shows.


Artsy Fartsy

I guess I should talk a little about how I got into art. Well I shouldn’t ask my old 6th grade art teacher who was under the impression that you had to be talented in sketching and painting to be any kind of self-respecting artist. Though I was pretty good with my sketching ability, my paintings weren’t up to her standards. Being the an awkward and overly sensitive artistic type, I never ventured into any artistic arena until my 3rd year in college (just to fill a GE requirement).

One semester of Art 101…one good critique…and all hell broke loose!!! I was a Home Econ. major / Theatre Arts minor, that in itself should have told me something. I continued to take art classes until I knew I needed to justify my wunderlust of art into a serious academic commitment. I was too close to throw my old major away so I added another major to the pot in my senior year… that’s when my parents stop funding me, thinking I would come to my senses. It didn’t work, but I thank them for putting up obstacles to test my resolve.

It was a wonderful time to be “into” art and a woman. The same art professor who taught my first art class in college and gave me my first critique, became the head of the Art Dept. at my little college. Little did they know that he was a “quiet radical” and free thinker. He brought in a young radical feminist, Judy Chicago, and gave her the freedom to create the first Feminist Art Program in the country.
I know it seems outrageous today, but there was a time when female artists were dismissed, ignored, and if acknowledged, thought to be “oddities”…freaks of nature.

Ms. Chicago left my little college (Fresno State) soon after the success of her program, going to Cal Arts, but not before she named her able replacement to the program at Fresno, Rita Yokoi. I was fortunate to be in Ms Yokoi’s class. It was a magical time, when there was free exchanges between the two groups.
Experimentation was key, not only in structuring the program but in the mindset of individuals. Women took themselves seriously in art, many graduates of the program becoming professional artists, teachers, administrators…and all greatly influenced by art.

Just to let some know, Ms. Yokoi soon moved on after the program to a prestigious position at UCLA Art Dept. Ms. Yokoi and Ms. Chicago had some sort of “falling out” period. The Program at Fresno State was in flux, but Joyce Aiken, an established Art professor at State, took on the challenge.

One wise person once told me…there has to be “Radicals” at first in every movement…they have to strong arm their views, be abrasive and obnoxious, challenge everything and everyone even though it may not make sense at times.
Then a funny thing happens. They are replaced by the “quiet radicals”, who add stability by reiterating the basic views of the radicals but in a more palatable way or proportion. I never thanked Joyce, but I’m grateful that she stayed.

I moved to the Bay Area, loving the weather and style of the City over the “LA scene”. Years of doing the “struggling artist” thing, living off of Top Ramien, entering shows when I could, walking through dark scary neighborhoods in the Mission to go to an art show. After awhile my slides took 2nd place to getting 3 squares a day. It didn’t happen all at once but comfort, style, vanity took over and I abandoned my art. When I look back on things…everytime I was at my lowest…the art always saved me.

Now that my health is failing, my art has come back home.


Why I married my husband

One of my earliest and most relentless nightmares emerged when I was a little girl…when other little girls were dreaming of their “prince charming” I was having a nightmare of walking down the aisle and not knowing who the groom was. When I woke I would be covered in sweat and terrified.
I did know my grandmother was a “mail order” bride and my mother had an “arranged marriage”. All this very traditional and acceptable in Japanese society, but I also knew that my Mom was in love with someone other than my father.

When Pearl Harbor happened and WWII was now an American concern, my mother was just a teenager gathered up along with the rest of her family and the rest of her Japanese community and shipped off to Poston, Arizona (concentration camp)… There she met others from all over the country. The young American-born Japanese still had hope, but their older generations were terrified, they thought they would be shot. Amongst all the shock and chaos of being uprooted from their homes, some sense of calm and purpose came to them. They would endure and organize themselves.

Mom had met a young man from the camp. She would never use the word “love” to describe it…that would not be “appropriate”. But when Mom came to marriageable age in camp, this boy from the camp was not suitable because he was not well educated. My dad was approved because he had been to university in Japan and was a professional writer before he returned to America. Though my mom had the right to refuse my grandparents choice she couldn’t go against tradition.

When I was rummaging through some old pictures, I found the picture of my mom that was given to my dad for his approval of marriage. She was dressed in my Grandmother’s beautiful silk kimono and obi that was her wedding dress. She looked sad and resigned to her fate. I sometimes wonder if when she was taking that picture she thought that if she looked forlorn enough dad would not want to marry her.

Mom and the “ boy from camp” remained “friends” for the rest of their lives. When airfare was not cheap and not the usual mode of transportation, mom’s friend would visit (with his wife) every year from Chicago. Dad would be more gregarious, friendly and drink a lot more when they were here…when they left a huge cloud of silence…dad going back to reading in his chair and ignoring us (as usual)… mom would be quiet and reflective amongst us kids who would play and fight wondering what was going on… then BOOOOOMMMM! …My mom and dad would start fighting in Japanese…boy is that scary when you’re young.

When I was going to college, I remember my mom calling me from out of the blue (very unusual)…she wanted me to take some time off and go with her via bus or plane to Chicago (very,very unusual)…I was in the middle of finals so I couldn’t go. A week or so later she called me again…this time she wanted to leave Dad!!!!… and live with me!!! Now this was very unusual… to tell you the truth, the thought of her leaving dad was not the shocker (what took her so long)…but for her to live with me meant I would have to tell her that I was what she would call a “loose woman”…I told her that I had to go to class but that if she was serious I would have to talk to her and pick her up after classes. By the time I called back she had changed her mind and I had missed my opportunity to be closer to my mom.

A few months later, she had become very depressed to such an extent even my father noticed and started to treat her more gently…doing small little chores to help her out…dare I say, “thoughtful”. Later I found out that that “boy from camp” had gotten sick and died leaving a wife, 2 grown sons, and a very good “friend”…
Most of my adult life I had felt the pressure to marry within my race and with approval from my parents. That “loose woman” statis I mentioned before, was due to me dating men not of my race. Maybe with all I knew of the women in my family, I wanted to marry for love. John was not my “first love” but he was my last. When I had to think serious about the wedding details, the question of the wedding dress came up. I did for a moment think that I would ask Dad for mom’s wedding kimono, but then I thought I needed to symbolically break some very old traditional “chains”. The wedding kimono and obi that my grandmother’s family must have sacrificed so much to give her…the wedding dress that my grandmother gave to my mother in love…having to cloak her love in tradition…never able to speak the word…and the wedding dress my mom wasn’t able to see me wear because of this nightmare I still carried like baggage…

When I married John, I wore a red sheath I designed myself, with an antique kimono jacket that held no family traditions to bind me…we walked down the aisle together giving ourselves away to each other…I knew who I was marrying…and the nightmares ended.