Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

I could probably wrack my brain and come up with something someone wrongly accused me of during a spat or a fight, but nothing stands out. In fact, I pretty much have done everything anyone ever accused me of. Maybe someone called me selfish, and I don’t think I’m very selfish at all. But you see, there’s always more than one side to a story. I might in fact be pretty selfish at times.

I once ran across some little gangbangers walking down the road. I got into a tiff with them. My girls cried in the backseat as I got out of the car and confronted them. They had slapped the side of my car as I drove by, as if my car were the rump of a big horse. It was summer and we had the windows rolled down. The gang kids were walking abreast, three of them, taking up almost my entire lane. Another car was coming down the opposite lane, and so I honked to get the kids to move off to the side. It was a slow road, normally 25 miles an hour, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t wait for the other car to pass and then drive around the kids, but when they glanced back yet stayed put in the middle of the lane, I inched so close that I almost ran over a foot. But I was going about five or ten miles an hour. I don’t think I could have hurt anyone.

They accused me of starting a fight with them. This I learned from the cop who I sic’d on them after I had a confrontation with the kids. They were two girls and boy. The girls were 15 and maybe 16, and the boy slightly older. After I got out of the car, that being after they slapped the side of the car as I inched by, we had words. I think I might have said, “What the hell did you just say???” I had heard something like “What the fuck?” as I drove by, probably because I almost ran over a foot.

There was a whole next part of the confrontation, where they followed me to the library, which was just a few yards from where I had first stopped the car, and I was feeling mean and strong, like the 16-year-old in me who’d gone to school with a bunch of pachucas was rising to the top, ready to go to blows if need be. I said a bunch of stuff that provoked them. I was mad that they were so damned cocky and stupid. And that they were probably going to waste their lives, acting too cool for their own good. My anger came out, and I remember feeling ready for a good fist fight.

And my girls were still in the backseat of the car waiting while I turned in my book, which, by the way, was To Kill A Mockingbird, which, by the way, I never read in high school or junior high but in my mid-40s. The girls were pretty scared, crying while they watched their mother walk by three kids who thought they were pretty tough, the boy was bouncing on his Pumas or whatever tennis shoes boys like him wore. And his bling were flying in the air, hitting his chest every time he went up and the bling went down.

Well, what I want to say is I probably did provoke that confrontation. I was in that kind of a mood, and when I drove away, peeling out so that the gravel under the tires of my car spit up toward them, I saw a cop sitting in his car just around the corner. I pulled up and told him that there were some delinquents by the library. Later, when I saw the cop again and asked him how things had turned out, he said that they accused me of saying a bunch of stuff to them and starting the whole thing. “Oh, really?” I said. And then he told me, “Yeah, but who was I to believe? A middle-aged woman with kids or a bunch of delinquents?”

I kind of felt bad for them just then.

-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey); and PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by Bob Chrisman)

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The Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The Bodhisattva Kuan-yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of
Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A few weeks ago, Liz and I and a studio mate visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to attend a panel discussion addressing the question — What Is the Current State of the Arts in Minnesota? There are differing opinions; it depends on who you are.

Though Minnesota has traditionally been one of the most well-funded and supportive states in the U.S. for the Arts (and Minneapolis one of the most literate cities), many writers and artists will tell you that over the last 10 years, funding at the state, community, and individual levels has begun to dry up.

Before the talk, we glanced around the room and wondered why the discussion was not better attended. Where was the community? Where were all the artists and writers? Where was everybody?

Opening remarks were from Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson, and we listened to representatives of the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Minnesota Orchestra, Loft Literary Center, Guthrie Theater, and McKnight Foundation frame the discussion through a rose-colored prism. It soon became apparent that the institutions and well-oiled machines that house and fund our arts and creative programs had a totally different take than many artists I know. With few exceptions, nearly every person on the panel thought the Arts in Minnesota were doing well.

One exception was program director for the arts at the McKnight Foundation, Vickie Benson who made a reference to how we can’t forget artists who live with poverty, have no health insurance, and face a lack of retirement money. And Fox 9 news anchor and moderator, Robyne Robinson, stepped in with a personal experience about how a Fox 9 news segment on the Arts she once hosted had been cut from the local news. It took courage for her to go out on that limb.

You can read more about dissenting opinions at mnartists.org’s Commentary: What is the State of the Arts in Minneapolis? by Michael Fallon. Everything is conflicted. I’m an artist and writer. I attend events at the Guthrie, the Loft, the MIA. I’m a member of the Walker. Yesterday I heard an MPR piece about how funding is drying up for a local history museum in a rural Minnesota town (many museums receive Arts funding). Staff has been cut. Volunteers can’t afford the gas to get there and are asking for reimbursement.

          Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.      Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.      Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

What is the state of the Arts in your hometown, state, province, or country? Are you experiencing differing opinions between Arts institutions and the writers and artists who create the work? One will not survive without the other. It is a reciprocal relationship. There is room for debate; there is always room for healthy discourse.

For the time being, I’m choosing to focus on the compassion of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin. After the panel discussion, we attended an art opening downstairs, Smoke and Mirrors by photographer Vance Gellert, and strolled through a few floors of the MIA permanent collection. Kuan-yin had a window seat next to a series of ten to fifteen Buddhas and Bodhisattvas spanning thousands of years.

Bodhisattvas are Buddhist deities who have forgone entrance into Nirvana until all beings have attained enlightenment. In China, Kuan-yin became the most popular bodhisattva and was widely worshipped as the deity of mercy and compassion. She is often depicted as female or androgynous, even though she sometimes has a mustache.

According to the MIA, the Kuan-yin in these photographs is seated cross-legged in the lotus position (vajrasana), and is from the Sung dynasty (960 to 1279) noted for its art, literature and philosophy. The bodhisattva is carved from movable sections of wood; the eyes are inlaid crystal, and the robes of gold leaf. Both hands are turned up with thumbs touching the middle fingers in the gesture of discourse or argumentation (varada mudra). The hair was originally encased by a gilt metal crown that is now missing.

Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Kuan-Yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

haiku for Kuan-yin, June 2008, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, photo
© 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

love disguised as art
mercy steeped in compassion
cracks open the door

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

-related to posts: haiku (one-a-day) , Walking Your Talk (Do The Arts Matter?), Does Money Soil Art?

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Burning, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Burning, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

How do you walk your talk? I’ve been thinking about what that means. I can write, paint, draw until I’m blue in the face. How does it change anything? How is it making a difference in the way I live my life?

A wise person once told me, it doesn’t matter what a person says — pay attention to what they do. The true measure of a person is in their actions. If someone shows you who they are – believe them.

Choosing to become a writer and artist has changed the way I look at the world. I dive for details; I poke at the underbelly; I take risks; I notice things that are tossed aside, hidden, secret. Other writers and artists are doing the same.

I have the greatest respect for those who form community, who give back what they’ve learned. I’m sitting here writing my butt off everyday, but who cares? How am I giving to the local community, my neighborhood, to family and friends.

It doesn’t matter what I learn, how educated I am, how many degrees I’ve earned, how much money I make. What matters is how I apply what I’ve learned to my daily life – how I walk the talk.

Does my word mean anything? Does the art mean anything? Do I show up to honor my commitments? If I make a mistake, do I admit it, offer apology? If I slip away for a while, disappear, do I come back? Or do I abandon.

Walking The Talk, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Walking The Talk, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Walking The Talk, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

What about my commitments to myself? I can put a structure together on paper – time to do my art, to work on my book, to read other writers. If I don’t follow through, live the structure, it’s not worth the weight of the paper it’s written on.

I can get out and teach other people about writing. And about the value of the Arts to a community. But if I’m not living what I am teaching, who’s going to listen? Who’s going to believe me?

How do you show up for others. Has writing changed the way you interact with your family, friends, students. Do you share knowledge and credit, model what you’ve learned? Or hoard information for yourself.

There are those who go to the opposite extreme — giving themselves away, until there is nothing left. Do you overgive or caretake? Do you know when you are depleted, exhausted, need time alone, downtime to replenish the well.

How do you walk the talk? Is it by going to writing retreats, taking risks with your art or writing, writing in a group, submitting your work? Do you support libraries, rally public funding for the Arts, frequent museums, encourage your kids to do art. Or is it as simple as showing up to the page, at the canvas, or with your camera, burning to create.

So many questions. I’m not looking for answers, only the sharing of ideas. Why do the Arts matter in this world. What does it mean to walk your talk?

…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 1934

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

-related to post, W. H. Murray – Providence Moves Too

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