life as a tramp


She gets too hungry for dinner at eight
She likes the theatre and never comes late
She never bothers with people she’d hate
That’s why the lady is a tramp

Lately people don’t like me. Not everyone of course, just some people. A significant number. They unfriend me on Facebook, horror of horrors. They avoid me, not returning my messages. Or they just give me the stink eye. It used to be that this kind of rejection would upset me. A lot! I wanted everyone to like me. I needed everyone to like me. And because I needed that, I was… nice. I couldn’t help being opinionated, strong-willed, and expressive, but when I saw that being this way was making some people not like me, I would immediately tone it down. I made myself smaller around small people. I retreated. I waffled. I stepped lightly.

Throughout life our values change. I no longer value people liking me. When I left the Mormon church I lost quite a few friends just for that. It was an eye opener. And then when I started simultaneously trying to make new friends and come more fully into who I am, I discovered that not everyone was going to like the unapologetic version of me. I was surprised by how many women didn’t like me, for example, as I became more connected to my sexuality and stronger in that. I suppose it makes biological sense, but are we that primitive, ladies?

Quite recently I’ve decided that not only do I not care if everyone likes me, but it’s probably a good sign if some people don’t. Once I really started to believe that deep down, I changed a lot. I stopped being nice and I started being real. I started being someone I like and admire. I had no idea what an impact that shift would have on my social life. It’s been dramatic. People either feel much more comfortable around me, or much less. There is not a lot of in-between.

And I feel more at home in my own skin than I ever have. I’m in my body, and I’m taking up space. I’m not sorry to be taking up space. This is my space. The other day in a practice coaching session, a man told me that I am earth, sex, heat, and power. I said, Yes! That’s me. You nailed it, buddy.

I don’t see myself giving up this way of being so that everyone will like me again. My friends are deeply important to me and I love them immoderately. However, first I’m my own closest friend. And that friend never tells me to be nice anymore. She tells me to be a tramp.

Mr. Turner

MR-TURNER_STILL-05I think it’s one of the best biopics I’ve seen in a long time. It was understated. I appreciated that I wasn’t hit over the head with explanations for why Turner was how he was. He was merely presented with all of his massive contradictions for us to take him or leave him, just as he presented his paintings to the Academy, to be taken or left as is.

Today I listened to the Fresh Air interview with Timothy Spall, the actor who portrays J.M.W. Turner in the movie Mr. Turner. Terry Gross asks Spall if he thinks Turner was “somewhere on the Autism spectrum” because the artist was “completely lacking in social skills,” was obsessed with his work, at times sexually exploited his housekeeper, and did not show love or affection to his adult daughters. I was amazed that Gross perceived Spall’s portrayal of Turner as someone who could possibly be on the autism spectrum! While the man obviously struggled with expressing his emotions in words, we are talking about one of the greatest Romantic artists. Romanticism was all about expressing emotion and it is impossible to look at one of Turner’s landscapes without being bowled over by it. I thought Spall’s performance portrayed a man with a great deal of powerful and deep emotion beneath the surface. Turner was implosive, as Spall said, though he pointed out various scenes in the movie where Turner’s strong feelings were obvious. Turner also had a close and loving relationship with a woman in his later life. The fact that he sexually exploited his housekeeper, who was in love with him, does not mean that he was incapable of love. Nor does it mean, as Spall pointed out, that there was not some element of love in that relationship. This is evident in a scene between them when the housekeeper remarks that she may as well not change the sheets because he so seldom sleeps at his house anymore. You can see in Turner’s reaction that does understand social cues and that he empathizes with her. He tells her nothing of Mrs. Booth because he knows it would hurt her.

So have we reached the point where we have to diagnose everyone who is obsessed with their work and doesn’t talk glibly about their feelings as being “on the spectrum?”

Spall’s performance was masterful. He never ceased to be fascinating to watch and listen to, even with all the grunting and growling. (Actually, I think we should bring grunting back.) As unpleasant as Spall made Turner at times, I think he also made him lovable. Sometimes he was downright adorable, like when he sings along with “Dido’s Lament.” I was interested to learn that Spall took fine art lessons for over two years to prepare for the roll. From his Fresh Air interview he seems amusing and smart. I smiled at his definitions of the Sublime and Romantic movements in art as not having to do with describing a piece of cheesecake or “if you’re lucky, a weekend in Paris,” respectively. I was touched by the affection he expressed for his friend, who died the day before the interview.

Every scene in the movie was gorgeous and appealing to the senses. It made my fingers ache with desire to touch things, like that lovely yellow paint the elder Mr. Turner was mixing. If I were to make a movie, I hope it would be highly tactile.

Cannes 2014: Mr Turner

While I was in London last month I went to the Tate Britain’s Late Turner–Painting Set Free exhibition, focusing on the work the painter did after age 60, when everyone thought he was going senile. It’s sad how we judge older people. Now, seventy years later, we can look back and say that Turner was not senile, he was just moving toward modernism. He was being more hip than the youngsters who dismissed him. I don’t care for some of his paintings, but I don’t blame that on the painter being old.

Some of  the paintings I really loved, like “Peace, Burial at Sea:” 

Who knows why “The Fighting Temeriare,” once voted as the painting best-loved by the British people, was not at the exhibition. Turner painted it at age 64. There is a marvelous scene in Mr. Turner based on that painting.