Tag Archives: art

escape to feywood

art is created by simply reaching into one’s chest, gently ripping the heart out and laying it out on the canvas, or the keyboard, or the rhymes.

i have published more than two dozen romance novels under my own name and the pseudonym vivian leiber.  my exhusband maximillian often felt that he was the hero of my books--and he was right!

i have published more than two dozen romance novels under my own name and the pseudonym vivian leiber. my exhusband maximillian often felt that he was the hero of my books–and he was right except for that book based on my relationship with george clooney.  and that other one about my relationship with ryan gosling!  i have also published two memoirs and three regional histories.  every book, every story, is my life.  just with more drama and better hair.


my friends beth and zeeb live in feywood just outside spencer, indiana.  i was lucky enough to find them home since most of the year they live on the road selling their work at art festivals, renaissance faires, and delivering custom designed creations to loyal fans.  feywood is a sprawling hobbit house hiding in the woods.

this mask was made by slathering latext on zeebs face to make a mold.  the mold was then used to create the plaster mask.  zeeb said the latex hurt his beard, kind of like how i feel about brazilian waxes.

this mask was made by slathering latex on zeeb’s face to make a mold. the mold was then used to create ths plaster mask. zeeb said ripping off the latex hurt his beard, kind of like how i feel about brazilian waxes.


beth is working on a project that is even more ambitious–

beth and zeeb are pagans and devote a lot of their artistic energy to depictions of fairies and earth gods and goddesses.  they have five or ten projects going on at once!

beth and zeeb are pagans and devote a lot of their artistic energy to depictions of fairies and earth gods and goddesses. they have five or ten projects going on at once!

i think i’ll just camp out at feywood for a few months and sort out what i’ll be writing about next.  any suggestions?  if you can’t make it to feywood then check out beth and zeeb’s work at feywood.net!

the worst thing i ever did to a facebook friend. . .

. . . turns out maybe to be just chill!

winnetka, where i live, is a very small town and everyone knows everyone.  or they think they do.  and everyone knows the “appropriate” way of doing things.  or they think they do.  inappropriate is what you call anything your neighbors do that you don’t like.

i was at a gathering a few months ago and a woman told me that f2fb friend #231 maureen noble’s daughter was going away to boarding school.  the woman said “boarding school” in that sweet and sour voice that suggests maureen’s daughter had “failed” at new trier high school but that the woman was too discreet to actually say so.

new trier high school is  highly competitive school.  all students are in the 99 percentile–grades, friends, sports, music, theater.  if they’re not or if they’re not in any percentil whatsoever, well, something’s amiss.  when joseph was a freshman, i received a “1%” letter from a band director who wanted joseph out of band because joseph’s playing was not at a national competition level.  as a freshman.  first semester.  get him out of my class.   now.  i succumbed and signed off on letting him drop out of band.  i think of it as one of the worst parenting decisions i’ve ever made.

the woman at this party continued. . . “the worst thing you ever did to maureen noble and her family was to cast maureen as the lead in the p.t.a. benefit show.  it distracted maureen, pulled the family apart, it was . . .  inappropriate. . . and the daughter suffered.  now she’s . .. in boarding school.”

the word inappropriate is a good way of shutting down the conversation or expressing disapproval in a vague enough way that it's hard to dispute

i was stunned.  i felt guilty.  four short years ago, i was asked to write and direct a p.t.a. benefit show and i thought it had turned out okay.  i remember thinking that maureen was a great star, an incredible singer, and so enthusiastic as a newcomer to winnetka!  now i was being told “you’re a fuck up” and worse, “you fucked up somebody else’s house”.

so i was a little concerned when i emailed maureen on her birthday to say “hey, i’m doing this facebook project where i’m going to meet all my facebook friends this year!”  and she emailed back that it wasn’t a good time.  i thought, oh, whoops, i really did mess things up.  i didn’t realize it was the very day that maureen returned to winnetka from taking her daughter to boarding school.  no matter how good a mom feels about a decision like that, it isn’t a good day.

but i was so happy when maureen invited me to her house yesterday that when i realized i’d have to drive eight hours back to winnetka in order to make the moment, i was on it!  however, i did a stupid thing:  i drank so much caffeine on the road that i had to take motrin p.m. to get to sleep.  jeez, i was strung out!!!

maureen was preparing for yom kippur, a day of fasting. but she wanted to share with me the beauty of rosh hoshanah the week before wherein one eats apples with honey. i really needed that because i was a little shaky from too much highway, too much caffeine, and too empty of a refrigerator when i got home!


when i came to her house, she talked freely about her daughter going to boarding school and her son being at the idyllwild arts academy in southern california.  she showed me some of her children’s artwork.  the noble children are not of the type that can be classified by percentiles–maureen would never say it, but i will:  they are what would be called genius of the renaissance.  that genius can’t be put in a box of nine periods per day, four thousand fellow students, weighted gpa, advanced placement testing.  maureen and her husband have done what is the greatest sacrifice of parenthood:  they have let their children go where they need to go in order to let them be who they need to be.  i’m not sure i could have ever done that for joseph or eastman.  i’m grateful i never had that.  i was put up for adoption when i was three years old.  i don’t know if i feel grateful but the circumstances were different.

maureen has developed a program for young girls to create bowls that evidence their strength. into these bowls, girls put the things that define themselves: courage, grace, patience, empathy.

maureen is thinking about what to do with herself now that herself is not involved in her children’s lives with the degree of exactitude as before.  she has maintained her commitment to art.  she showed me the most beautiful decoupage blocks, embroidered sacks, tags of extraordinary beauty and depth.  she doesn’t very often show these artworks.  and i thought–artists in the past have not existed without a patron.  but does art exist without a market?

i told maureen about my fears with respect to the benefit show.  had it been a bad idea?

the year she did the benefit show her husband asked each of the family members–maureen, their son, their daughter, and himself–to do the thing they most feared.  for maureen, it was apparently bouncing around onstage under my direction.  frankly, that would scare the hell out of me too!  although maureen didn’t share with me what the other three members of her family did as their “courage initiative” she is quite firm that the nobles supported and still support each other.  somehow i think this family is stronger with their children NOT at the high school five blocks away than it is with their children away.

then it was off to a confab with my travel magician–booking hotel rooms around the world. . . this reluctant tourist will be start by flying all the way to seoul, south korea to stay . . . at the best western!!!  a little piece of home goes with me.



the origin of the world and other paintings. . ..

i think this project would make a beautiful movable museum exhibit, with each facebook friend celebrated and presented in their incredible unique way. fadel haowat-halliwell, f2fb #66 already has his materials ready. from the outside, he looks like the perfectly average chicago twentysomething: he works at a lincoln park coffee shop, he just switched his major from chemistry to math, he lives with his parents and sister and pet parrot, and he carries his life in his backpack.

but fadel is also a seeker. of faith. of love. of love and sexual fulfillment together in one special person. he is an artist and a feminist in a way that i have never experienced a man to be.

yesterday he showed me a series of pictures that i think must be seen by the world. i must find a curator for him.

at first i thought the picture above was a watermelon, but it is not. it is a picture of the source of life. it reminds me of “the origin of the world” by gustave courbet. fadel calls the picture “fertility”.

the second picture he showed me is called “the economy” and you have to look closely to realize it’s really about how the world makes money off of women and enslaves women. the skycrapers are decidedly male, with penises at their core. the only escape, within his vision, is a pirate ship.

the last in his series on women is religion. fadel was raised greek orthodox and briefly committed himself to being a muslim. but he has yet to find the true peace of faith fulfilled. in this picture, he emphasizes how religion has trod on women but he makes a larger point about the dynamics of different religions. you can’t see it but this is an artist who does not complete his work at the end of the canvas–instead the painting continues around the canvas. it’s really remarkable and a picture does it scarce justice.

i was startled that he had prepared for me a portrait. this is me having coffee with a vagina at the artopolis coffee shop. it is now on my living room mantle directly under a portrait of queen victoria.

fadel is a seeker and so am i. we’ve made plans to visit a few services together and to continue the discussion of faith and what’s important. i also hope one day to see his paintings in a museum. perhaps the museum of sex in new york.

next up: i meet a real hero, facebook friend jeffrey weber