I never talk much about myself and I am not much of a social media person. I am the old generation who grew up without hand phones and credit cards. Still, after the hurricane of December 1999 in France, I quitted smocking and bought a multimedia computer with my savings. I self taught how to use Photoshop, video edition tools and how to make an HTML blog. I had my first website some time in 2000 mostly as a way to put my name on my work.
In September 11, 2001, I was in the city of Dreux, France. I had just bought a home and learnt of the New-York terrorist attack from a contractor who came home for a bid. He did not stay. He said he heard the news on the radio in the car and wanted to leave to learn what happened. I rushed to my computer and learnt the news. Terrible news. Terrible images of the smoke swallowing the city, people jumping from the windows, others narrowly surviving from the rubbles. Something unbelievable had just happened.
In 1998, my long years of research on the history of architecture in South East Asia has been pirated by an international organization that benefits from juridical immunity. I had the similar feeling of being stuck somewhere in adversity. After I bought my computer and self learnt computing, I had been on computing forums and groups to make progress and I found this wonderful community of geeks, most of them from the US. Hitting New-York felt like my friends had been hurt. I used the best of my knowledge and started to blog. It was like sending compassion letters to anonymous survivors.
In 1990, when Saddam invaded Koweit, he took possession of the French Embassy in Koweit, pushing French forces at war against Iraq. In December 1990, I learnt in the news that French troops were not allowed to celebrate Christmas and as a protest, I started to write letters to the troops. I draw all the envelops what soon caught the attention of the French head quarters in Iraq. They used to pin my envelops on a wall and to send copies to the troops. I was the angry girl from France who would send candles and candies to the troops along with satirist cartons.
After September 11th, I followed the same path to support American troops. The second war in Iraq was the very beginning of blogging, new platforms created to let people journal their days, their ideas, their work. From a simple web-log, it became multimedia with pictures and videos and after the grieving of September 11th we started the grieving of young US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Young, that’s what they were. When I was still young and first wrote letters to anonymous soldiers, my first motivation was that I was home while young men who could have been my brothers were taking risks with their own lives.
Twenty years after September 11th, the generations have changed. Young men went at war to protect their country, they had to cope with their hanger and then they would leave until someone new to come and learn to discover a foreign culture, cope with the threat and follow orders. Most veterans who are now my age have been to Iraq and to Afghanistan and after 20 years, maybe the hanger has passed and people have learnt a different way.
I have been in the US for 6 years and I live in the golden state, where geeks were born and raised. Over the last 20 years that passed, new geeks from around the world have joined the community and it is really enjoyable to be there where I had put my hopes for so long. Of course, my dream is not really what it may look like in reality. Life in California is tuff, the movie industry is tuff, the people behind the movie industry are tuff, the geek industry is tuff and it has changed. Sometimes, I feel that they forget that we were there. They professionalized and they treat us like “amateurs” because blogging had never been a job, it was more like writing a letter to a friend.
Some people don’t have other ambitions than money and they like you as long as you show them support and they forget about you when they pass the finish line. They are like soccer players who walk away with the Porsche. Maybe they worked hard for it, of course, but the excess feels like too much amateurs make them professionals and social media are just like that. And I don’t like it. At the end, your pockets are only filled with expired tickets.
Twenty years after I supported the troops, I have this sad feeling that they are going to feed the news with death as long as there are people to watch them. And anyway, it’s always a show. All parts, the terrorists, the army, all the same want to take the show and they all have a message.
I started this post to talk about my studio. I arrived in Los Angeles on May 16, 2016 after 16 months in Las Vegas. I loved Las Vegas, the kindness of the people but I could not find a job without a green card so I moved to Los Angeles for a try. I was willing to stay a month and if I did not find a job, I would have moved to Texas. I found a job after only 3 days and it never stopped until 2019. I was sick, had heat exhaustion, food intoxication, dog bite, strain ankle, broken bone and then Covid-19 begun. I have lived on a 40 foot motor boat in Marina Del Rey until the marina closed for renovation. I had to leave and find a home but without credit score and without a green card I discovered how tuff is Los Angeles. In Las Vegas, it took 29 days to find a condo, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, one large living room with patio, gym and a pool in Summerlin. In Los Angeles, I only found a storage unit. My employer housed me for a while until I bought my studio and all I have is a school bus.
My school bus and me have been through a lot. The school bus was bought by the Department of Energy in California and converted into the first CNG prototype in the world. The company who made the conversion specializes in co-generation to produce heat and electricity. They changed the crank shaft, patented it and after the rows of certifications, they dumped the school bus in a junk yard. While looking for a RV on Craigslist, I saw a picture saying “Tecodrive 7000” and I knew it was something special. I bought it, I towed it out of the junk yard and started to rent a small land in Westchester where I worked on the conversion. I had no plans to live permanently in the bus but it just happened.
My bus has been my positive project and I always felt everything positive about it. This week-end, instead of painting, I have worked on the improvement for my home, enlarging the kitchen by 5 inches, planting some new figue trees from the seeds of my figue tree and enlarging the entrance area with new lights and furniture. It is becoming homey and the art studio has now two desks and a lot of light. In France, I had a large house, 3 story, two large wood working ware houses. Now I have a school bus parked in a RV park. I have projects for my next move, enlarging again with more gardens and a place where I can settle permanently.
My cat is my companion and only family in the US, but I am struggling in the RV park. A new neighbor has decided to leave her dogs unleashed what gave the idea to others. Since she arrived, it is the hell of a living always jumping from scare that one of those dogs would attack my cat. As a consequence, I don’t sleep at night so my cat can be in her garden and I am seriously fed up of my neighbors, having to be on alert all the time, having to argue while they just like it, they enjoy seing you struggling and having this sense of power in their hands that their dogs can really mess around your own place. I love dogs, but I feel that some dog owners only have dogs because they like to be watched. It is their show with an audience that is always happy, always content with their kind of soul. What kind of soul is this to always be so nasty at sending their dogs in someone else garden?
Sometimes I wonder everything I have done in the passed, supporting the troops and maybe now some of them would send their dogs after my cat. I can only imagine the smile of this nasty woman accros the street who would enjoy having fooled me. Her hate is like a lesson I have learnt in 20 years that finally seams wrong. I used to love people and now I just wonder.
Finally, my studio has closed doors, large windows and my cat. Trees popped up in my garden and I helped them grow. Now, I have more than 100. They make me smile no matter what. Some of them came from the seeds planted from the wind and some birds pooped the seeds they had eaten from someone else garden. My first tree was a papaya, and then I rescued a figue, among other plants. This is the end of the summer, my figue tree is having babies growing among the pepper trees and the strawberries. The apple trees made roots in my boots while some succulents made a nest.
I can live without seing the people around me, never say hello, never talk because I know they always enjoy to have arguments but just now, I almost have to, and it is not the same as being able. I stay in the park as long as I can the time to solve my paperwork, but I am not happy with the idea that some people enjoy to hurt me through my cat. That smile they have when their dogs come in my garden is really something I have known too well and it makes me doubt of humanity. I use the word humanity on purpose. A humanist is now the new chief chaplain in Harvard.
The idea of a God kept me alive when I was a kid and all the years I met animosity in France, I felt God by my side to help me keep going. I am not able to live without a God and this is probably the reason why I am fascinated with the basilica of Ravenna, because the lamb in the dome, the symbol of the prey, of the victim, the one who suffers is in the oculus of the law, above all. I have always believed in justice and more importantly, I have always sought the truth. I am interested in history and I do continue to research because I want the truth and I am interested in art in a way to interpret the truth because sometimes, human intelligence is too weak, symbols and allegories speak better.
I had my two doses vaccine and the second shot made me very tired, plus uncertainty of everyday life… my back hurts but I keep gardening and improving my home. Tomorrow, I am back at painting. I bought new books with my $50 dollars paid by the state of California. I will post on them soon to explain how it influences my art. Until then, my senses are on alert all the time. Dogs, news, souvenirs… My art brings me peace and rest. It brings me closer to the idea that harmony does exist but harmony is an achievement that sometimes needs a God.