My mother also worked there. It was a virtual soap opera tragedy, a shop of horrors.
I didn't have the sales gene. I hated being behind the counter.
Hated being behind the jewelry bench, polishing. But, It kept me in acrylic paint
and canvas, or I would have exploded and imploded simultaneously.
They complained about me typing late, saying did I think I was Lois Lane.
Writing poems and short stories, painting, writing songs; it kept me relatively
sane. Got together with the lead guitar player in my high school band,
One afternoon, I was in my room, staring at the ceiling, contemplating my
miserable situation, when my father burst through the door.
I jumped from my bed. He had a rage-aholic fit about my
marijuana habit, punched me out, and dragged me to the hospital.
"I feel the love." Confused and hating everyone and everything,
stuck there, the closest place to nowhere. Every second there was a second I
wanted to leave.
Pumped me full of psychotropic drugs, with allergic reactions, the continuous
boredom, and the constant dread of being blocked from the path I started,in art,
was sheer torture After another month of going to groups, and hospital
grounds confinement I was evaluated for financing by a rehab grant to go back
to art school. Paintings I painted, after studying in Vancouver, were a portal out of
hell. I was up for a state grant to go to art school, in NYC.
At the hospital on Long Island, the alternative was a lobotomy.
Or more shock treatment.
I drove to the office for a preliminary interview for the grant by, to my surprise,
the hospitals' Head of Psychiatry, after being released from the hospital, He
was the male parallel to nurse Ratchet, in Stanley Kubrick's "One Flew Over
the Cuckoo's Nest" with a bigger stick it to ya. He looked at a self-portrait I
painted in oil on a large canvas, "The Weapon." In the painting, I was sitting,
playing guitar. He looked at it as if there were something wrong. "Why are the
"Because it's different," I replied.
Stranger than that, I'm not wearing shoes in the painting, just socks. I was
stuck, not getting out. Him being in that office was what was wrong, but I
somehow managed to keep that to myself, squirming in my seat, across from
his desk. I thought I wouldn't have a chance. I met program requirements, and
was approved to attend an art school in NYC. Home life chewed me up, and
spit me out. I was driven in the only direction open. When I was sixteen, I ran
away in the middle of the night and walked to the woods a mile from my
house. The sky was lit by stars. It was early summer, after the tenth grade
semester. I looked up at the stars from the ground, and in the morning
Painted Portals by Lyn Barlotta @11/4/10
I was on summer break at the Vancouver School of Art. Life on the
West Coast was new art and friends. I took painting, figure drawing and
sculpture. My painting instructor said I was a trend setter. I looked up
from my intense art studies, when a New York friend contacted me to
tell me she was coming out to Vancouver to live. She also was a
poet-artist. We had a strong, yet unstable friendship at a confined high
school, over a year before. She showed up at the Vancouver train
station with a big black trunk. I had mixed feelings about her coming to
live in Vancouver. I moved from the basement apartment I rented,
near the PNE Grounds. We found an apartment to share.
It's an electric whisper memory. We went to a Moody Blues rock concert,
and I went to guitar bars in Gastown, where I met musicians, they
introduced me to people owning a gallery. She met some guys, I joined
them in crystal meth use.
I woke up in a hospital bed, in suburbia, USA. That's when the "MAD
MACHINE" got me. I forgot I had left Massapequa, didn't remember
going to art school in Vancouver. After shock treatment was forced on
me, the explanation was; that I was depressed. I think I would have got
over the speed crash, ending up back at my parents house, was the
nightmare. My friend married one of the meth heads.
Years later, she showed up at my tiny studio in Park Slope. I was
finishing up my last year, my films were in the graduation class film
festival. I was taking my last class, in off-broadway theater, in summer
school at Pratt.
My boyfriend of three years, was living with me then, a sound engineer I
met when I had a 16mm sound track composite made, for one of my final
films, at Pratt. Long story short, she wanted to have a 'menage a trois'. I
threw her out. Enough.
When my memory of living in Vancouver came back to me, I was more
than ticked off. I didn't think I was paranoid, thinking that erasing my
memory was the plan, the depression was an excuse. My father owned a
jewelry store in Massapequa, which eventually grew and moved to
Huntington. It must have been tough on him, having a problem child. He
was a well-respected merchant.
That's how he saw things. I didn't think people who knew him would like
to watch him kick our dog down a long flight of stairs to the basement, for
going in the garbage, when I was twelve. I didn't. I knew I was next. I was