Tag Archives: single motherhood

I WILL KEEP DANCING: Grace. Happy Mother’s Day to my little boy.

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How To Disappear Completely

How To Disappear Completely.

(On the third anniversary of this photograph, now fully recovered.)

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2014 in Review: Saints and Sinners (janice j. cunningham)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Do you like art and the creative process? Does the “eccentric” life of the “typical” artist intrigue you? Scare you? Amuse you? Inspire you? Read on…

Allo allo!

I would like to cordially invite you to join my ARTISTS’ group on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/JJCunninghamArtLove/

It is a private, invitation-only group,  but if you request membership, an admin will approve you as long as you’re not a bot.

Not only do I post my own work and artistic musings, as well as upcoming shows and #contemporary #art news, but I have SO MANY uber-talented friends worldwide, whose work I love to share with the public every day.

You could be one of them! All art is the soul, ergo beautiful.

So far the group has almost 4k  (!!! — so grateful) members, so if you would like to either be a voyeur or an exhibitionist, please be my guest.

To me, my readers and followers are all VIPs.

Try it out and see if you like it…you can always leave! Ain’t no Hotel California, lol…

Feel free to also follow me on #Twittter: @jjgrape.

(I heretofore take no responsibility for any profanities or insanities contained therein. Twitter is fun! No rules. Just what we painters like best.)  😀

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OPHELIA SWIMS. 2013. Oil, gold leaf, tears, and poppy dust on wood. 18x24

It’s my happy place — besides the library, the easel, or in front of my iMac. 🙂

Above are a few samplings of my paintings, but this group is dedicated to sharing the work of my many artist friends from all around the globe: a virtual #gallery of sorts! What fun.

(But it is strictly bring your own wine and cheese… 😦  Sincere apologies. Hehe.)

Cheers,

JJC

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A Poem for Papa (教皇的一首诗)

To honor single mothers everywhere who CHOSE LIFE:

A Poem for Papa (教皇的一首诗).

Your little one says, “Thanks, Mama.”

Happy Mother’s Day.

Love,

A single mom sans child. ❤

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The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial

The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial.

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The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial

WHOA NELLIE!

…just came across this one, written in the bleak summer of 2012 and never posted.

Difficult to read this, it was…i have since nearly forgotten the horrors that my eyes have seen in the past 12 months alone.

THIS, I will NEVER EVER forget: the horror of BURNING ALIVE for almost five minutes while remaining fully conscious.
I went into paralytic shock and simply stared at the hungry orange flames, greedily licking my arms and reaching for my face.
My silk tee shirt melted into my chest.
My grandmother’s antique 24K gold crucifix glowed hot in the flames, presumably almost molten. I have a burn scar underneath where it hung.
Alas, it did not survive the inferno that my little body miraculously did.
I will never forget that image of a glowing tiny Jesus, helpless on the cross, looking up at me from my own chest in my burning kitchen.
Never.

“STOP, DROP, AND ROLL”, the epic drill taught to us in elementary school during the Cold War Era,
completely slipped my mind.

However, ON A POSITIVE NOTE!!! — I am delighted to say that through the use of beautiful images and positive thinking, as well as the purest love of my three year old son, William James, I have made it through another personal Hell. Through the the magickal world that is photography, painting, and digital imagery, I have crawled, bloody and charred, from the bottom of the blackest of millennial holes. AGAIN I WILL STAND IN LIGHT. Painting religiously, writing, and shooting, while exercising like a madwoman and plying myself with vegan meals and phytonutrients, I have overcome burn injuries that would frighten Freddie Krueger into submission. (I sustained third degree burns on 80% of my body above the torso, excluding, somehow, my head — and have healed 1000% following the most gruesome nightmare i ever had while awake.)

My left arm, once slated for amputation, was surgically receated in January, using flesh and skin grafts from my lower and mid-lumbar region, and I sweated through 8 months of grueling physical therapy. I graduated!
NOW: FULL ROTATION > SKIN COMPLETELY HEALED > OFF PAIN MEDS.
My melted and charred body, has somehow (!!!???) completely regenerated itself almost as if the fire itself was eons ago in a distant forest.

SO, here goes…thank God it is over. One more nightmare under my belt.
Hold on, little Susie — this old leather belt is running out of notches.
There will probably not be One More Chance.
For my life, I am eternally grateful.
Here is the BEFORE pic of my arm, post-surgery just 10 months ago.
The last four photos are the AFTER pics, now.

July 14, 2012

“I am trying to remember — one step at a time today — that the body is merely a temple for the soul. I feel that my temple has been blasted with a wrecking ball and am sick of pretending I am fine.

Everyone thinks I am such a hero, and so beautiful, and I am sorry to tell you that it is bullshit.
I am alive. That does not make me a hero.
I have been hiding in my house in the heat trying not to cry because the painkillers do not work, and posting pretty pictures to make myself happy. I stared at my ceiling fan all night in bed, sleepless, praying that the itching and the pins and needles would stop. But every time I drifted off, BAM!!! A stab here, a pinched nerve there. I got so mad, I screamed, got out of bed, threw my pillow against the wall and made a pot of coffee. Called it quits. Heroic behavior? I think not.

I am looking at a body that was once athletic and proud and is now a shriveled mass of gristle and scar tissue. How can I sit back and allow you all to shower me with accolades simply for staying alive? How can I allow you all to tell me how beautiful I am? I look in the mirror now and I want to vomit.

I think maybe I am a writer, painter and  photographer because I can create a more beautiful world than the one that actually exists. I look at the photos I post and sometimes think, “Gee, I wish that was my life.” Maybe I have disassociative disorder. Maybe, as a photographer, I am merely a liar with a camera and a paintbrush.  I have been told that the world I have created is indeed a beautiful one, so that leaves me to ponder further on whether or not the filter of intense physical pain causes me to see everything as ruined and distorted — hence my unending surprise when I do see my photographs uploaded on to the screen.  “Who’s life IS that? Certainly not mine!”

I am not fine. I am in pain. And I am sick of being strong today. I just can’t.

Sorry. I am going to let myself hide, let myself cry, and
just keep trying to photograph myself onto another quantum plane. Lord knows this one is feeling mighty sucky today.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. The truth comes out. If people run from me now, as I expect they may, I will smile in recognition of the fact that when you laugh, the world laughs with you.
And when you cry, you surely cry alone.
I have my paints. I have my books. I have my son.
I have God. At least I thought I did.
I am beginning to wonder.”

EPILOGUE:

November 23, 2012. 9:20:48 P.M. EST

ALLES IN ORDNUNG. I am A-otay, Buckwheat.

WOOT!
Âllo, Herr FIRE???
Was ist das?
Who is laughing now?

Yours truly,
The Original NYC COCKROACH — unkillable.

Janice J. Cunningham
Planet Earth
11.23.12

Take THAT, mighty god of HELLFIIIAH! Mwahahaha. :O


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A Poem for Papa (教皇的一首诗)

 
 

Four years ago
you left for work.
It was a humid early summer day
in the spring New York City swelter.

Leaning nonchalantly in the doorway,
you said, “Later,”
like nothing doing,
and turned for the stairs.

No kiss goodbye, not even a glance
in my direction.
I leaned out after you, and called down the
creaking stairwell
to tell you
not to bother returning.

You did not.

This was smart, for me.
Maybe the wisest words ever
hastily spoken.

Since you had no problem with
helping me spend me my money or
using my body in bed,
losing you was a gift,
in retrospect.

Three years ago
I gave birth to your son.
Alone, in the dead cement of NYC winter,
I welcomed a new human being into this
world.
Only two Franciscan nuns sat in the
otherwise empty hospital room
as i suckled at my breast
the child you have not even
sent one birthday gift to.

No flowers from Daddy arrived,
not even a card or cheap chocolates…
only a pathetic
and rude text message, something
about a paternity test.
Called me “Baby Momma”,
even.

I remember the sound the phone made as it
hit the cold tile floor.
Its screen shattered.
The baby began to cry.
So did I.

Your son met you, once
and was in my arms when
you, once again and years later,
brought me to tears.
He talks about it
to this day.

“Daddy mean at Mommy. Mama cried.
Daddy mean.
Are you happy,mama?
Be happy, Mama!”

They remember everything, the
little ones. Like
elephants in miniature,
they never forget. For you, my
ex-lover, this
is a lifelong liability.

Your son speaks of you
rarely now,
except to mention in passing
that your favorite color is yellow.

Two words: good bye —
from me to you,
were the wisest words
i have ever spoken.
I will say them now and
i will say them again.

Like a leaf, fallen haplessly
from the massive oak
over our little home,
your memory
lies, dried out and faded
in the driveway of my mind.

 

 

Welcome to the world, little one. Three days old, William James.

i love you i love you i love you my son.

just born

The view from my hospital bed at St Luke’s Roosevelt at dawn. WIlliam was 2 hours old. 2.09.09.

And I would do it all again.

good bye, baby daddy. where my face was, there is ether.

the closest i will ever get to you again. Only to say goodbye…to your countenance on a piece of canvas.

Janice J. Cunningham 7.04.12. Cleveland, Ohio

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give me a reason to love you

(HOMESICK   HOMESICK   HOMESICK)

“It appears my brain has been left behind in dreamtime,”
she said sleepily, to the empty house that held her like a baby bird.
The chimney swifts that had taken up residence in the flue of her fireplace
chirped their too-cheerful agreement.
She downed hot cup of Eight O’Clock French roast,  number three.
Immunity had set in to her last remaining vice.
Save for cigarettes.
Damned devil sticks were next on the list, but not just yet.
Tethers to this earthly plane, they were.  Veritable strings on a floaty red balloon.
A strange and lovely silent tsunami was rolling in.
Slowlyquickly, in stop motion, each second of the rolling monster
a separate sepia-colored print on faded and torn photo paper.
From a great distance, yes,
but the tide
was all-powerful nonetheless. She welcomed it, yearned for it,
arms open wide.
Anything to be engulfed. Anything.
She waited.   Painting, drawing, not sleeping, sleeping in fits, crying, listening to birds, painting, watching rabbits in the yard, feeding peanuts to squirrels, painting, missing the dead, crying, laughing, feeling too much.
Smoking, feeling nothing.  Then back. Bungee jumping of the  most uncomfortable yet beautiful kind. She waited until the bungee cord was stretched so far that she could see the tiny expressions on the carpenter ants’ shiny black faces, looks of shock and surprise at the giant human falling out of their sky.
Only then, THEN, she would snap back. BACKBACKBACK.  Sometimes it was almost too late.
A coma here, some morphine there, a miracle baby, a few teeth knocked out, a charred limb or two.
But snap back she did.
So far.

She anticipated the arrival of the silently roaring tidal wave with quiet yet barely suppressed joy.
Inside the breaking curl of salt and sea was the quantum plane she sought.
Timelessness. No-time. Dreamtime.

Snapping out of her reverie, she placed the empty coffee cup in the sink and glanced at her watch.
Glinting in the sunshine, the tiny gold numbers
suddenly made no sense to her.

“Hmmmm…strange.”
Losing her mind was not something that frightened her any longer these days.
She half-assumed it was already long gone anyway.
Things were different now, though.
She was Somebody’s Mother.

“It’s all good. It’s all good. It’s all good….”

Without further thought, she changed into her camos and a flowered tank top, washed her face, and went outside to work.

She bent over her drafting table, sketching a small black cat.

“Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death…”
Maybe if she said this THAT MANY TIMES,
she and her son would be okay.
It worked in the big city at the convent, all alone.

If only she said it THAT MANY TIMES.

That many times that many times that many times.

Maybe it would work here too.

THE THINKER. 2007. Gouache on paper, 5×7. Sold. Collection Jackson Zimmerman, PA.

Just give me a reason to love you, and I will stay.  Better yet, give me a reason to love me.
JJC                           Cleveland, Ohio   6.04.2012

 

BAD KITTY II. 2008. Prismacolor on paper, 7×9.

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Do Not Go Into The Light (just yet)…the Bardo of Rebirth

The verdict today @ Cleveland Clinic, by Dr. Paul Bryson the Great:

At 9 a.m. EST Tuesday, June 26, 2012, Dr. Bryson is permanently closing the “irreversible” tracheostomy hole that has defined/defaced my throat for almost three years now.

Permanently, as in, forever.
Permanently, as in, I can again wear my beautiful Hepburn-esque double strand of pearls.
Permanently, as in, I will be teaching my three-year-old son, William, to swim underwater in about three weeks.

Then, onward and upward to the HIGHEST DIVING BOARD I CAN FIND! Somersaults, back dives, swan dives, CANNONBALLS!!!Going underwater and staying there for as long as possible in a tub full of sea salt. BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS! Tortola, Hawaii, the Keys, California coast, St. Barth’s. Mexico. Ile-de-France. All, someday, i pray, with my son by my side.

My dreams and my faith that dreams indeed, come true.
Manifestation now happening.  Must believe. Failure no longer an option. As if it ever was?

In my mind’s eye, I am already hurling myself into the sea at Main Beach, Maidstone, Georgica, Ditch, Toilet Bowl, Turtles, and,
most importantly and poignantly of all, TERRACE.
At Terrace, this I will do with the utmost glee and joie de vivre — to honor my long-departed beach buddy, Alexander Lowenstein.
(I know your tanned 21-year old face is smiling that big blinding grin at me, wherever you are. And that wherever you are is someplace “TOTALLY AWESOME, DUUUUUDE!”)
This I will cherish to seize the rest of my days here on this earthly plane. This I will do to make up for the days you lost by leaving us too soon, on a 747 at age 21.
Not a day goes by that I do not think of you. And laugh.
And/or cry.
Thank you for teaching me more from a beach chair then I ever learned at school.
R.I.P. Alexi. We love you…like you loved us, if that is at all possible. You ARE love. Can you hear me?
I miss you. Like nuts. Still.

R.I.P. Alexi Lowenstein 1967-1988.

And MILLE GRAZIE from the bottom of my Sicilian heart TO ALL MY FRIENDS for holding my hand through these past horrific three years of
*outliving a purported diagnosis of “TERMINAL” (at least it got me out of my pinstriped suits and DEVIL WEARS PRADA life!)
*being pregnant alone,
*surviving two comas,
*re-learning how to walk, talk, eat, and breathe,
*living on a respirator,
*getting OFF said respirator,
*doing my best under dire circumstances to raise my son William as a single mama (WITH TONS of Help, mind you. OMG. GRATITUDE)
to be the pure love and light that he is,

*and um, er…CATCHING ON FIRE from the waist up five months ago.

PHEW!!! My, what a long, strange trip it’s been. And I would do it all again. I have learned much, been humbled, and am stronger than I ever deemed humanly possible.

PAIN+NON-ACCEPTANCE=SUFFERING.
I have discovered something called RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.
SUFFERING IS AN OPTION.
HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE.

I am  so happy. Every day that I am breathing is a good day.

No one can take this away from me.
LIVE LIFE WHILE YOU ARE HERE! Please, please.
I have seen the face of Death three times now.
DON’T go there.
Unless, of course, your time here is done.
Then, go to the light. I did.
It is warm and lovely and tempting and people you know are there calling and reaching out for you, but

you cannot change your mind should you forget to
say to someone here,

“i love you.”

i love you.

i love you. i have always loved you. i will always love you.

namaste

Hey. I LOVE YOU! Thiiiiiiiiiissssss much!

pure love

Always, always in love. Be always in love.

the purest love of all. i would die for you, baby boy.

Be always in love, and always in joy. This, you can never buy.

Leaving on a jet plane. April 2008. Post-coma, 78 pounds, pumped with morphine. I conceived the love of my life about three weeks after this was shot.

i think i was a ghost already when this was shot. I am haunted still, every minute of every day. It’s eerie and beautiful.

bardo of rebirth brought great relief.

The present. Forget the past after it has taught you, however harshly.

light chaser

You may get burned very badly if you do not listen carefully …

LISTEN.

Listen. And then grow.

omnamahshivaaya

grow, little one. you are loved beyond measure.

Spirit Horse. 2004, oil and glass beads on board. 2×3.5′. Collection Karen Clarke, NYC.

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