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The Artist’s Way

As businesses and beaches slowly (and not so slowly) re-open, I’ve been thinking about artists as essential workers.

We’d have lost our minds this spring were it not for movies, TV, books, DJ sets, Zoom dance parties, all sorts of creativity. This tracks, because artists always have been the ones to lead us out of chaos by dancing on the precipice between order and disorder, and combining holy patience with holy impatience. It’s a vital model, for to rise wholly (and holy) from this viral dis-ease–to effect conscious, constructive change–we must reject the 21st century, post-industrial concept of linear time in which every hour, minute, second (and nanosecond) has been scheduled and over scheduled. Instead, we must embrace the lessons of our Covid-19 tesseracts, and continue to rest, to look and listen mindfully, to practice gratitude and economy, and above all: to create.

For art was never meant to be consumed and collected the way capitalism has taught us. Instead, we are each meant to process our unique joy and pain through creative expression—be that baking, sewing, sowing, singing, spreadsheeting, painting, witching, writing, whatever suits us sustainably and beautifully.

To be an artist is to be a spirit worker, social changer, chaos wrangler, and time traveler—and we all must be artists now. This is a key lesson of Venus Retrograde in Gemini. And this is a key lesson of this Wrinkle in Time.

For a reading or ritual to activate your own creativity, book here. Art: High as Fuck, an open-air quarantine creation by Josh Smith, courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery.

Venus on 42nd Street

Outside the deli
Primroses and daffodils
I open my coat.

I was reminded of this haiku as I ventured out for my walk super early this morning—the only time to honorably unmask outdoors. It’s my favorite entry from the Haiku on 42nd Street project, which took place in 1994, right after I arrived in New York and then-mayor Giuliani closed down all the deliciously seedy Time Square “theaters” (read: pornhouses). While normally bustling 42nd Street was still a ghost town, local poets had their way with all its marquees. These interstitial moments in history offer such stubborn, sad beauty.

My Queendom for Your Ragu

All day long my downstairs neighbor–a 78-year-old woman from Campania–has been cooking an indescribably delicious-smelling tomato sauce. Mikey and Paulie, my Muppet critic pals from the coffee shop, call this woman one of the “black stockings” of our East Williamsburg neighborhood where they have lived since birth. By this they mean she is one of the older Italian (not Italian-American) women who scream at their philandering husbands all day, every day, in between cooking delicious-smelling tomato sauces and attending Mass not once a week but twice a day. On this point my Muppet critic friends are as right as they often are.

(The only times they are wrong is when they insist on my need for a bicycle I mean a man. Yes I am the fish in this equation.)

It makes me laugh to see my downstairs neighbor all demure in the hallway, given that those daily fights with her philandering husband are so loud that my intuition clients can hear them in our Zoom sessions. When her philandering husband made moves on me I got him to lay off by any means necessary, so she refuses to share her delicious cooking even when there is not a raging pandemic. Long ago I accepted this as fair exchange for not having to play nice with a sex offender and his enabler. But today that sauce is torturing me. All I want is to sit at someone else’s table and eat a big bowl of home-cooked pasta and cheese and tomato sauce that magically appears in front of me. I want gnocchi, lasagna, ravioli, penne, fettuccine. Marinara, ragu, puttanesca, carbonara. Focaccia. Broccoli rabe. Arugula. Spicy olives. Polenta. Arancini di riso. I want to wash it all down with a big glass of red. And I do not want to wash the damn dishes.

Essentially I want an Italian mother–or an Italian wife.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy