Well, I found some more art in my studio from when I first started experimenting with making colorful random messes – or art, as I guess I call it.
Of course, the last thing I ever think about is giving these messes any kind of title. Do you have any ideas?
Mom took me for food truck walks, dad took me for med school walks
By the time we had strolled through the entire line up of carts, I had reached to point of emotional distress, and it was perfectly timed to be back in my little nest in my cubicle In the surgical oncology unit, urgently reach for air canvas, grab my paintbrush like a pacifier, and get lost in my painting, making it through air few more hours until my dad would get to the hospital, and find something reassuring medically he could tell me as he took me through the hidden corridors and hallways of the hospital and medical school building which we somehow found our way into once the school had shut down for the night,which i think to this day, only the friendly janitors knew we had snuck into. My father would take me past the classrooms, biology labs, big doors with an xray sign that said do not entire, big nitrogen tanks, COnferebce rooms with expansive open ceilings, and forgotten wings that weren’t sure what we’re for, sure to be back in my room in my time for the nightly dressing change.
Again, sorry yale.
Speaking of Yale, these are excerpts from my upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour, now available for pre-order….
“I don’t know what I’m doing. but I’m feeling something really strongly and I can’t run from it right now. I am just going to hold his paintbrush and whatever this feeling is I’m just going to put it into this.” I once journaled at Yale Hospital.
Nurses who had just written me off as the restless manic patient consumed by overactivity now saw that I had a heart. They were kinder, more understanding and patient. A quick glance at my medical history should have been enough, but now, as I made art, they finally had compassion and understood the pain of what I was going through. More than that, they really liked my paintings.
Art lifts my spirits
In the process of creating, I found myself and learned lessons along the way. Through creativity, I discovered my voice. Suddenly, I had found a way to express emotions that were too painful, complicated, and overwhelming for words. I used everything in my art—even toilet paper from the hospital bathroom. I painted my trees that I missed; I created my inside and outside worlds, full of their joy and pain, tears and hearts, lightning bolts and flowers.
Art put me in touch with a me I could recognize: the Amy who was there before the surgeries, the passionate part of me that no medical intervention could surgically remove.
Each morning before the doctors came in for rounds, I’d paint feverishly whatever abstraction came to mind and what evolved from my situation.
One morning, Dr. Nan came in to see me.
Did I mention that anyone can make art? You can start…anywhere!
And then…who knows what it can lead to?
AMY: (catching up to DOCTOR) How is it going, Dr. Nan? Any results from the contrast study you did yesterday?
DOCTOR: Working on it. There’s a good chance that the leaking might be from the colon. I’m not too concerned though. Stay on that road, kiddo.
I was frustrated as hell, until my Mom asked, “Why don’t you paint something?”
I took out my stack of canvases and stared at yet another blank palette – like the answers doctors were coming up with. I slowly dipped a small paintbrush into that kids’ set of craft paints, and started to paint a brown wavy line – always a sign that I was looking for my trees to ground me. As the lines thickened, so did their trunks, and my sense of confidence in not only what I could paint, but the next step for me on this uncertain road – even if just a baby step. I ended up painting (with the help of a final teardrop added) “End of Summer.”
As always, the agony of the isolation and disappointment was significantly lessened by the unbelievable support of my family. Without question, my mother stayed in that tiny oncology warn cubicle with me every night. My father worked his regular hours in his office, managing his private practice, and then would drive through rush hour immediately after work, stopping at home quickly to bring us any last minute clean clothes, games, movies, or any other distractions from the outside world, stay with us through the night after checking with all of the nurses for the doctors reports and making sure every little thing was okay, even managing to make us crack a smile with a cheesy joke he’d tell his patients at the office. I counted on him every night to take me with my IV pole, exploring all of the secret pathways that we’d michieviously disciver. The bridges, the tunnels and hallways we found, im sure we’re not intended for leisurely iv pole strolls, but at that point, hospital trespasser was already on both of our resumes. We even joked about coming out with a Zagat book one day ont he best hospitals for walks, the wards with the most scenic passages, the ones that were the easiet ot sneak out of – we knew them all very well by now, literally from coast to coast. We’d try to find lightness as my heavy feet trekked downt he halls, he’d settle me for bed, and then he would leave at 5am and head right to work, with Rush Hour again while mom and I stuck it out through they day.
When I was done, I would put each canvas outside my hospital room, and soon the unit began to catch on, even taking patients by my room to see what I had created that day. I was sustaining my aliveness and inspiring others, which filled me with unanticipated meaning and satisfaction.
For me, painting was one more step toward feeling human again. Art was my way of documenting my life and pinpointing my soul at a time when I wasn’t sure who I was or what I was feeling. Making art inspired me with the courage to put myself out there, and emboldened me with the confidence that I was a person, and not just a patient. My life had changed, but my self was still vital as ever—in whatever colors I dipped my brush in.
As I started to paint, I realized how sad I was without food. I painted until my 9am walk —the big blue teardrop I envisioned yesterday on a black background and a big tree, inside of a heart. Inside the tear is a swirling being intertwined with a blossoming tree. I covered it with toilet paper and matte medium—my go-to for added texture. I wasn’t extremely proud of it, but it came out nice and will probably look cool when it dries.
On our 9am walk I told Jammi, one of the nurses, how I don’t want to wait around anymore and how as soon as my fistula is under control, I’m going to Disney World. As she was craving her ham and cheese omelette from downstairs, I saw Dr. Berman and Dr. Salem making rounds, so I became nervous and excited. After Jammi and I had done five laps, I said I was going to continue walking around waiting for Dr. Salem. I watched him go in and out of rooms, and at 9:30am he finally stopped me in the hall.
“Amy! We’re looking for you!”
“Me too,” I said.
What would YOU title this art? Let me know!