Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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Is it Me?

Stupid Model illustrations_

I’ve been a bit blue.

And I haven’t been very nice.

The agent of our house texted me this – you aren’t being very nice – after I asked him whether he leaves his car running in his driveway overnight. He had just told me that the AC is like my car and if I don’t keep it running all the time it breaks. (The AC had broken.)

Then a friend asked in an e-mail if I was OK, because I wasn’t usually like this. This was after I got upset that a book launch party for the latest book I’d created had been planned when I’m elsewhere (she’d also described me to the party planner as “the … wife”).  I answered that, yes, I am usually like this – Barbara de Vries, the designer and producer, who would like to attend the book’s party. She wrote back that she didn’t need my resume. Then she asked me if I was OK.

There were two other friends in the last month who didn’t like my reaction to, what I perceived as, their unsupportive behavior.

When it adds up to four in four weeks, that’s one a week, maybe I need to take a look at myself. Maybe I’m really not usually like this. Maybe I’m usually like whatever. Like happy. Like smiling. Like loving. Maybe I’m becoming different from how I’m perceived or maybe I’m really not very nice. Maybe I have just been pretending that I’m nice. Maybe I just want to be liked, but in the end I’m not likable at all. And so it goes in my head. And thus I’m a bit blue.

 I think I’m blue because, by thinking all those thoughts, I’m not being supportive of myself. And then my Dutch Calvinist voice says, who gives a fuck what you think of yourself, stop being indulgent.

 I’m gonna ignore him for a minute. Because I’m on to something. As a mother and a wife and a partner in our studio, I expect from myself that I’m 100% supportive in all those roles. I support my daughters and my husband emotionally, physically and nutrionally. I support the company creatively and intellectually. I expect from myself that I can solve everyone’s problems as well as make the oceans free from plastic pollution.

But I’ve forgotten about leaving just a tiny bit of support for myself. And maybe thats where it all starts. But what does this support look like? There are women who go shopping, have their hair and nails done, have massages and meditate as part of their inner support system. I actually get irritable doing these things. Some take vacations or go running. I like swimming, but not really yoga, although I should do it. It would be very supportive if I could get into yoga and also self -hypnotizing. Like just an hour a day. I love being with a bestie girlfriend, talking women’s stuff, hanging in the knowledge that I’m not so unique in trying to do it all and getting pissy in the process. Sometimes we bitch about the women in our lives who are not supportive of other women. Even the press picked up on that concept after Hillary lost.

 “It’s all because white women do not support each other.”

 I can go there…

 But maybe I should support myself first.

 Maybe we should all support ourselves first.

 And we’d all be a bit nicer…

… to each other.

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Here is an excerpt from Stupid Model when at age 17, I first came across a misconception and the surprise of the unsupportive female:

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STUPID MODEL – Chapter 18

He led me to a softly lit room that smelled of baby powder, diapers, and milk. The windows were open and gauze curtains blew gently in the warm evening air. The drone of steady traffic drifted up from the boulevard below. Collin’s wife sat on a narrow bed next to a sleeping boy. She held out her hand and whispered, “I’m Heather, how do you do? Collin told me so much about you.”

She was not at all as I’d imagined. She was pale with small features and her dark, almost black hair was cut in a Vidal Sassoon bob that made her look a bit intimidating. She gave me a quick smile before she turned to Collin and asked if he could bring her a glass of that delicious-looking Champagne we were both drinking. Her eyes flashed brightly with something I couldn’t quite place. Was it defiance? Sarcasm? Or some inside joke she shared with her husband?

“I heard a lot about you too.” I reached to shake her hand.

I was a bit afraid of Heather and I didn’t say much over dinner. Instead I ate my chicken, mashers and green beans, drank Champagne and red wine, and listened to them chat about his work and her day with the kids. When she told him that she’d been approached by the Herald Tribune to produce a reportage piece with photographer Martine Franck, I took the opportunity to tell them that I’d been booked for my first couture show.

“It’s kinda why I brought the Champagne.”

“Well, cheers to us,” Heather said raising her empty glass at Collin, showing him that she needed another drink.

It didn’t dawn on me till later that Heather’s job offer may have been a really big deal, and that maybe I’d stolen her thunder, especially when Collin reacted by bringing a second bottle of Champagne from the kitchen and I was left at the table with Heather. After an awkward silence she said, “So, do you enjoy this business of fashion?”

It was an odd question. I hadn’t expected her to be so, well, I’d hoped for another kind of conversation, like where are you from, oh, I love Amsterdam, what does your father do? Do you have brothers and sisters? Instead I felt that she’d put me on the spot and I’d better have the right answer.

“I like the travel,” I said, “and the freedom, and it pays good money when I finally get to work…”

“Sure, but that’s not what I meant.” She sounded annoyed. ”Do you feel that it’s a good industry to be part of?”

I didn’t get what she was driving at, and sensed that she was ready to be mad at me. Luckily, Collin returned with the Champagne and three bowls of chocolate mousse.

“Never mind her,” he said, “she’s into women’s lib nowadays, and gets quite passionate.”

I wished he hadn’t said this. It was nice of him to put her question in perspective, but I just knew that it would piss her off.

“Wow,” she said. “What a put down! I just want to find out if Bee is aware that she’s being exploited by a system that objectifies women into sex symbols.”

“I know what you mean,” I blurted out, as if I finally understood the right answer. “And I agree, modeling is shitty that way, like today we all had to strip for a creep. But I’m going to study design as soon as I’ve earned enough money for college… in London.”

Heather glared at me like I’d made things worse, which made my head swim, or maybe that was the entire glass of Champagne I’d nervously finished in one big gulp.

“I don’t mean that YOU are the victim!” she said, now fuming. “I mean that you’re responsible, in the same way that if men didn’t volunteer to be soldiers there’d be no war! Without models women could be happier with themselves—their looks, their bodies—gettit?!”

“I make women unhappy?” I was stunned. How could she accuse me like that? She didn’t even know me.

“Heather, STOP!” Collin said. ”Skinny girls have feelings too!”

“You shut up,” she shouted back. She filled her glass with the remaining Champagne and drank it all.

“You and your fucking ads that are designed to manipulate and make us insecure. This bra for sexier tits, that cream for younger skin, this diet margarine to get thin… you make me sick.”

Shit, she really was drunk! I knew what she was trying to say. My mother was becoming a feminist, and I totally wanted to be an independent woman, but Heather was so mad at Collin, the only person in all of Paris who’d been kind to me. I wanted to defend him, but Collin spoke first.

“My job pays for this nice apartment, and your principles don’t seem to stop you from living here.”

“If I could work, instead of being the unpaid nanny, I wouldn’t be living here.”

I got up and took our dishes to the kitchen. This wasn’t my fight and maybe if I left them alone they’d stop. But Heather wasn’t finished. Once I was out of the room, she ripped into Collin loud enough for me to hear.

“ What the fuck did you bring her here for? Do you fancy her? Are you screwing her?”

“Please,” he begged. ”Don’t you get it? I thought you two could be friends. You seem lonely and blame me. Bee is lonely too. You need some friends here, Heather.”

“With her?” she screamed, like I was Linda Lovelace herself. “That self-centered, dumb creature? Don’t you know me at all?”

What the fuck now? Ever since I’d left home, ever since I’d been here, women had become the enemy; no, I had become the enemy to other women, and I didn’t have to do a thing to deserve it. Just being a model and tall and skinny seemed to be all it took to receive blanket coverage for abuse. Had I missed some critical clues growing up? Like my mother’s best friend who had no problem screwing and stealing my mom’s husband? Had that been a warning sign? And was advertising really so different in Holland? I couldn’t remember ever feeling offended or unhappy with myself because of some ad. The popular girls in school were the only thing that made me miserable and I always thought that was my own fault, because I wasn’t cool enough. But now they hated me for seeming too cool. Or whatever it was. When did this change? I needed my mother. She’d help me out. She was so attractive herself and I’d never heard her bitch about any of her friends, she was even grateful to her friend for taking her difficult husband off her hands and getting her independence back. Perhaps Dutch women were just different.

I finished cleaning the dishes and left them by the sink to dry. It was quiet and I wondered if Collin had split and Heather had gone to bed. The door to the dining room was ajar and I peeked inside. It was empty, one of the chairs had fallen over and our napkins were scattered on the floor. As I withdrew I heard muffled giggling and I pushed the door open just a bit further. I wasn’t exactly planning to say goodbye and thank you for a lovely evening, but maybe I expected a friendly word from them, like thanks for bringing Champagne and doing the dishes, or sorry for being such assholes.

What I hadn’t expected was seeing the two of them on the floor, screwing. Collin was on top with his pants halfway down his legs, his dimply ass staring me right in the face like a final farewell.

On my way out I noticed the bunch of lavender and my two prettily wrapped presents, still lying where Collin had left them on the hallway counter. I scooped them up and carefully placed them on the antique chair by the door, where the kids were bound to see them in the morning. The dried flowers I kept for myself as a souvenir of Heather and her belief that girls like me made her unhappy. Whenever I got a whiff of lavender after that memorable night, I felt grateful that, soon after, my time in Paris had come to an abrupt end.

Scan61 copy


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WOMAN – OCTOBER – 2016

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I am different this month. And if I am different then millions of women are different this month. I am one of many and I am never alone. I am woman and I am different this month.

I am different because two weeks ago the Milford Readers and Writers festival happened. It happened in the town I love and I was one of the organizers. I am different because I listened to Gloria Steinem, up on the stage and in front of the logo I had designed. I am different because my long-in-the-works book, Stupid Model, was published and I sold fifty copies over three days. I am different because I was doing it with all with my friends. I am different because for those few days I felt centered and within myself.

I read a passage from my book to a room full of women and they laughed and applauded. They heard me and we connected. This changed me. Then it was over, my old and new friends went home, I tidied up the house and I too went home, leaving my home behind.

I am different now from who I was then. And I am different from who I was in September.

Together with millions of others I am restless. I am anxious. I am provoked. I am angry and I want the world to be different.

Is it true that change brings up everything unlike itself?

Together with an entire generation (or two) of women I have been forced to remember things that I had forgotten. Or had marginalized. Things that became threads woven into the fabric that made me into who I am today. Those small things that grab us and make us a little less proud. A little less confident. A little less…

I always fought when they happened. After being a scared, weepy child I stood up for myself when I walked away from my youth at age seventeen. To Paris where I fought the men who groped me on the Metro, followed me in the street clucking and whistling, took me to dinner stroking my thigh under the table while talking business with colleagues above the white linen, silver, china and crystal. I fought the photographers who demeaned me over and over and, on my last day, I physically attacked the ultimate misogynist, a famous couturier who had me thrown out of Paris.

Illustration from Stupid Model in Paris and Down Under

from Stupid Model in Paris and Down Under

Perhaps I fought because my mother fought. Fought her own demons. From the German soldiers who had controlled her town and her family when she was a teenager, the ghost of my father who drove his car into a tree and left her alone with me, a two-year-old babe, to my stepfather who was controlling and abusive and after fifteen years absconded with one of her younger friends.

I fought because those were the days that we “fought back”. A clinched fist was our symbol. Don’t fuck with us. But who were we kidding? When you could not be anywhere alone without at least one man grabbing you wherever he liked, metaphorically and physically.

I fought my way to success. I was ambitious they said, like a dirty word, dirtier than pussy and grab. Subconsciously, I learned to use sexism in a game of exchange that couldn’t be won. Like fake promises it never delivered that moment of pure achievement, because in the shadows there was always a baritone boasting – you’d be nothing if it wasn’t for me, and I can undo you.

October 2016. Women. What the fuck?

Did we really think it would come easy?

Just as it seems within reach we have to conquer our past and slay our ultimate dragon and not just metaphorically. He’s real and he looms, lies, interrupts, gropes, intimidates, demeans and threatens. Bitch is only one letter away from Witch, the she-devil, burn her at the stake, whipped into a frenzy the fearful-of-change masses promise to end her, cheering…

Change brings up everything unlike itself.

(I wonder if my daughters look at my rage the same way I look at my husband when he loses his shit in the car at the guy who just cut him off.)

It may not seem like it to the next generation, and it may not feel like it to us right now, but we have come a long way. And when Hillary is president our daughters will soon take it for granted and move on. That’s what change does: it sets the stage for more change, and they have plenty to do.

And we will have some laurels to rest on. Hopefully we can finally forget what we are feeling now, in October 2016, the fear that he can undo us. But remembering and standing together and visualizing holding hands with all women everywhere, yes, also the ones who wear T-shirts that say He Can Grab This >, we will undo him and finally allow ourselves to feel that sense of pure achievement.

LINK to STUPID MODEL:

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Don’t Tase the Messenger

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photo: Heather Bozzone

If Channing Tatum is the poster child for Abercrombie then Israel Hernandez is the poster child for Miami Beach.

Israel was handsome, young, beachy (see above far left), worked in the fashion/model biz, a boarder, an artist and an entrepreneur who was launching a line of skate boards. He was only 18 years old when he was tased and killed by Miami Beach police. He still wore braces.

photo: Heather Bozzone

photo: Heather Bozzone

Miami has been working hard on re-branding its image over the past few years.

It introduced Art Basel Miami and Design Miami to give the city a hipper, cooler, younger image and get away from its drug violence, retiree, Cage aux Folles party image of the nineties. Starchitects have been brought in to build international press-worthy public buildings like the New World Symphony by Frank Gehry, 1111 Lincoln and the PAMM ( Art Museum Miami) by Herzog deMeuron, and  several more headline grabbing buildings  by Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Richard Meyers are in various stages of construction.

Part of this revamp has been the creation of two different creative districts; the Design District and Wynwood. During Art Basel Miami these are the two “new” areas of Miami where millions are spent on international publicity. Wynwood is the  area that is brought to the international travel market for its “world class galleries that represent young local artists.”  To illustrate this the city and property owners, inspired by the success of Keith Haring in eighties Soho, “give” abandoned and other buildings over to graffiti artists to use as large and free canvasses to express themselves fully and freely. These buildings look like abandoned warehouses somewhere near Detroit airport before, and a lot more interesting after they have been made over with multicolored spray cans in the hands of aspiring Banksys.

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Wynwood as a celebration of local graffiti talent is a must see destination  headlines scream all over the world in their travel copy on Miami.

Even in the luxury branded Design District the main investor and developer of the area, Louis Vuitton, brought in graffiti artist Retna to express his art on their facade, which opened with all the champagne and red carpet A-listers that are expected from Miami and this French luxury brand.

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Shepard Fairey, he of Obama poster fame, did many walls at Wynwood’s Central block – The Wynwood Walls. When a Banksy mural  was stolen from a London neighborhood it predictably showed up, all thousands of pounds of concrete, at a Miami art auction house.

Are you getting my drift?

Miami is touting its graffitied walls  like they are the fucking Eiffel Tower of the American south!

So.

Where does that leave young, ambitious Miami artists?

Guess what platform, canvas, form of expression, medium, they use….

Guess who encourages them to do so by GIVING them walls, by rewarding them with money and fame, by honoring art school students with Awards of Excellence and Most Promising?

The City of Miami and its developer buddies!

And guess who did not get the memo….

Their own pumped-up police department!

So.

Lets get back to Israel Hernandez. Beautiful, talented, ambitious, kind, young and a bit naive,  willing to please in order to succeed Israel Hernandez. He was trying to be everything we, parents, expect our kids to be. Everything the creative culture tells our kids to be. Including just a little bit reckless. A little bit on the edge. A little bit challenging.

Israel Hernandez tagged an abandoned Mc Donalds on the corner of 71st and Collins. I know it well. Its next to my local ATM machine. It has been graffitied and tagged and vandalized over the past year. He left a small R for his street name Reefa.

The Miami Beach Police caught up with him and tased him. He died soon after.

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Our culture needs kids like Israel Hernandez. We need them to remind us what it is to be young. To make a difference. To be noticed. Did we not all at some point stand up to authority and held the mirror in its face?

Come on Miami, look in this mirror now, and take responsibility for the life of this young and promising young man. Miami YOU set the bar. You held up the carrot. You cast the die by glorifying graffiti and its artists. So why keep quiet now, when your own police tases and kills your messenger? The messenger you recruited and sent out there… the messenger you need to send your new cool brand identity out into the world.

Come on Craig Robins,  Matti Herrera Bower, Robert Wennet, Goldman Properties, Carlos Gimenez, Jorge Perez, etc. Do the right thing. Speak up, speak out. Get the memo of your plans for Miami’s global marketing out to everyone, including the MBPD. Start an art endowment in Israel’s name…

Do what it takes to recognize Israel as a child of your own….

Link to video with interviews with two eyewitnesses

art for Slap by Jane Simmons

art for Slap by Jane Simmons

‪#‎ripreefa‬   #‎justiceforisraelhernandez‬ 

Footage of protest/rally on Saturday August 10th from 1-5 at 71st & Collins.


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Team Tarpum Bay

My core team: Davette, Sterlene, Zach, Lynn, Queenie, Rose, Simone and Louise, missing is Audrey,  team captain

After the Easter celebrations my studio slowly became a hub. Word was out that the lady with the beach plastic needed help. On Tuesday five women came to sew and throughout the day more joined in. Zach had been helping since the first day – my master assistant who washed the plastic, laid it out to dry, cut it up and drilled it.

harvested beach plastic drying in the sun

We had 180 tee shirts to do. 540 bits of plastic to attach. We also had to make 100 napkin rings for a fundraiser lunch on Saturday the 21st. Another 1200 pieces of beach plastic went into those. I did not think it could be done. I worried. Audrey said don’t worry. Two days later she was right and they all laughed and poked fun at my concern as if my worries were the funniest thing that had happened all week, but I had no idea there were so many talented artisans in town.

adding beach plastic to the tees

By Thursday we were doing bracelets and necklaces. Together we sat around big round tables. I prepped each piece, dismembering the monofilament nylon drift ropes that tangle all over the beaches and reefs, strangling birds and turtles and poisoning whales, dolphins and big fish.  The colors of the monofilament are striking and I look for matching beads from turquoise to seed pearls and crystals. The crafters strung them and I attached the magnetic closures.  We did dozens like this.

 

Before  &  After

Friday was earring day and everyone was excited to learn. I prepped crosses by cutting old washed-up lobster traps, bait pouches and one red and one orange crate. Zach drilled holes in their centers. I laid out the findings and gems.

 

Before & After

While we put the earrings together we  compared birth stories. Rose had six kids, Audrey one, Sterlene two. I had three in two births. We talked about which of the Tarpum Bay super markets had OJ.

Sterlene: I have to get myself some orange juice

Me: I need orange juice, I went to Bert’s but they were out

Sterlene: They were out?

Audrey: Try 6 to 10.

Sterlene: And they stay open till 10

Me: They still have orange juice?

Audrey: Yeah they have orange juice, boat came in yesterday

On the island the rhythm of shopping is determined by the boat and the assortment an important part of daily dialog. As I sat and listened to their languid drawlin’ Bahamian dialect I wished I could stay long enough until I had their way of speaking   down.

On Sunday I went to my favorite beach one last time and spent the morning drawing and collecting beach plastic.

Monday was my last day as artist in residence. I packed up all my belongings, my 180 tees, 100 napkin rings and another 100 pieces of jewelry. I was ready for the Eleuthera Earthday Weekend. But I was melancholy. I had loved my time in the Castle and the Prep building. I loved my new friends. I relished in my daily routine of working at the castle in the morning and sharing my trash to treasure process with my local team in the afternoon.  I’d miss my early evening swims in Winding Bay where dozens of giant starfish dot the sandy ocean bottom and coming home salty and tired and having a vodka lemonade while cooking myself dinner and then working more into the night.  I’d been oddly lonely, but I’d enjoyed the solitude of spending time with myself after many years of being immersed in the bustle of my wild and intense family.

Early Tuesday I moved to Palmetto Point, closer to the Beach House where I will show my new collection and One Beach film during the Welcome Party of Jammin’ for Nature, three days of Earthday celebrations sponsored by The Nature Conservancy and benefitting One Eleuthera. Tomorrow friends arrive from NYC to help and party and I shall be alone no more….

Plastic is Forever website

come and join us!


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ROUTINE

I am woken up at 6.30 by my fifteen year old daughter. Depending on her teenage mood she either wiggles my toe or mumbles a sullen “wake up Mom”. Sometimes I’m already awake and, waiting for her to open the door, I’ll call “I’m up” before she enters the room. Occasionally she has to search and finds me on the sofa because there are times when a queen is just not big enough for her fretful viking parents.

After sliding my contacts sideways into sleepy eyes I pull an outfit from the closet that could attract the attention of  roadside assistance on the Alice Tuttle Parkway. I  don’t brush my teeth until after my first cup of tea, two bags of English PG Tips, super strong, lots of sugar and milk, and sipped as I make the next three lunch boxes out of the 4982 lunch boxes made thus far and the 2400 or so left to go. I like making lunch boxes. I refuse to iron, I hate washing pots, I’m not strong at patiently explaining home work but I do get into assembling lunch boxes. First the sandwich and its variations: white bread, whole wheat bread, cesar rolls, ciabatta rolls, bagels and wraps, turkey and cheese, ham and cheese, tuna, cream cheese, egg salad, hummus tomato lettuce, and occasionally for the unexpected and I’m out of everything, peanut butter. An apple or satsuma or grapes or melon. A large chocolate chip cookie from the Fresh Market and finally the salty element; chips or pretzels, crackers or Pirate Booty. Iced tea in the three canteens. Its the first creative act of my day.

    

By 7.15 Iona and I are in the car. By 7.30 I drop her off at the railroad tracks that run along DASH – her high school. We talk along the way. We catch up. There’s always something. A teacher. A test. A pesky text from an ex-boyfriend demanding back some gift bestowed in the early days of his mad passion. I curse and scream at the Miami drivers, justified in my agro by a recent report that Miami drivers  REALLY are the worst in the country. Its not me. It’s been proven and  I attest: They  don’t move at a green light, they slow down for orange so they can check messages, but do run every red light, they change lanes randomly, pull out of parking spots without looking, never use a blinker, speed in a slow zone and do 25 miles in the outer lane of the highway. They drive around speed humps as if that’s actually an option and mothers make u-turns on the school crossing almost running over the carpool of kids they just unloaded, all while texting.

Once I’ve dropped off Iona I have 12 minutes to make it back home. 7.42. The school bus for the twins arrives around 7.50. They are never ready and always in a wardrobe-induced flap. Amber hops impatiently through the hall, hyper at the knowledge that she’s next on my roster. The three of us run to the light, press the may-pedestrians-cross-soon button, ensure we don’t get run over by a red-light jumper and wait on the opposite corner.  Alton Road rush-hour traffic zooms by. The same thousand cars every morning. The same yellow Fiat with the redhead, the same black mini Cooper with the fat woman, the same tan man on his bicycle, the same white Range Rover turning onto Allison Island. I wait with my girls until they get on. Ever since a black Cherokee almost slammed into the back of their school bus I make sure they do not enter until all cars behind have stopped. I wave at the driver, a friendly grey haired woman, the girls hiss back at me “she only speaks Spanish, Mom!” as if I waved in English.

I press the pedestrian light again, check the traffic exiting from our community gates for the black Porsche Cayenne that came so close to hitting me a month ago that I actually screamed FUCK and saw my life flashing while the driver, her face a few feet from mine, remained unimpressed and did not even mouth “sorry”, something I would definitely have done had I almost run her over, just in case I’d meet her by the pool later.

By eight I’m home. I thank God for sparing me and my family yet again, clip the leash on Amber, grab a poopie bag and am dragged around Aqua for the next ten minutes, fresh on the trail of  the Airedale terrier – Zoe from Zoe Way (coincidental or intentional one wonders.) Amber, who ignores all dogs, has decided Zoe is da meanest bitch of Miami Beach and needs to be taken out. We pee, we shit, we pick up the shit because cameras are trained everywhere (in the last condo meeting there was even talk of D & A testing un-bagged left-behind turds in order for appropriate fines to be imposed.) Not I.  I am proud of my own goodness every time I pick up, and when the security guard passes in his golf cart moments after a shit has been taken I hold up my baggie and call out “I got it” as if he’s driving by just to check on me, which is not altogether unlikely.

studio aka garage

I return a disappointed Amber home and grab my swimsuit that hangs from the doorknob in my studio, also known as the garage. I change, wrap the mandatory Aqua towel around my waist and ride my bike  along Indian Creek to our pool. It’s invariably a gorgeous morning. We’ve been in Miami two years and four months and I still notice the luxury of the weather. It is sunny, warm and the air has a hint of salt from the ocean two blocks away. I look for dolphins or manatee in the creek. A heron flies close to me, checking for fish. I admire the tall palm trees on the other side of the water and the mansions with their tropical gardens and jetties with million dollar yachts. There is no one at the pool except for the Aqua grounds keeper preening for the day ahead. I wade into the Olympic sized body of turquoise water and start my  thirty laps.  The water is warm. Too warm. A ridiculous waste I think every morning as I pull a bunch of  bougainvilla flowers from the filter. I start to think as I swim through more  fuchsia bougainvilla. The sun is just coming around the tall apartment blocks of  Millionaire Row along Collins, the avenue that separates the creek from the beach. I think of the day ahead. I lay it out like the lane I’m lapping up, with each stroke I run my list: Finish taxes, call Blue Cross Blue Shield, balance my check book, mark up the next BHS folder, send e-mail to John about the wine sponsorship, order 200 tee shirts, did the Botanical gardens respond yet? And why not?  I think of the BIG list. The list of things to do with the rest of my life. My ambition list. I think of how I felt those first few months I was doing laps here. How I was unsure, insecure and off-kilter. How in the second year so much turned around, how doors opened and how I passed through them. I imagine I am exactly in the middle of my entire life. Its been eventful so far and I look forward to what’s coming. I think of the 120 or so pieces I have to make for my new collection. I anticipate what it will be like when my routine goes upside down and inside out when I’m leaving all this behind for three whole weeks.

Alone.

I’ll be alone for the first time in 16 years. Alone in a house. No actually, a castle. I shall make dinners just for me and 45 less lunch boxes in the big scheme of things on my to do list.

beginning of a new collection


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The making and premiere of One Beach, the movie…

Q and A at the premiere of One Beach

Last Spring I got  that  e-mail

That uber message we look for in our otherwise boring Inbox.

The one that says:

We have been following your work with beach plastic pollution, we love it, would you be interested in being featured in a movie we are planning?

Delete?

Not me!

Looking for a hidden sales message? Like the next line would say: If you take part in this short questionnaire  you too can be captured on film.

You bet! I did not trust it. I proceeded with caution.

It was not until I had spoken with all the makers of the film, the creative director Sean, the producer Michael, the director Jason and had signed a non-disclosure with Barefoot Wine (to keep it all hush until the premiere, hence no previous mention here at BDM) that I became excited.

They wanted to shoot in Eleuthera, where I find all my beach plastic, and so I sent them the  limited  list of places in Governor’s Harbour. Three low-key hotels, Cigatoo, Pineapple Fields and Coco Di Mama, and a handful of rentals that have 5+ bedrooms.

They chose Squires Estate.

Squires Estate, Toad Hall in foreground, Main Russell House beyond...

I had always wanted to stay there, ever since it had been restored two years ago. Alastair and I even looked at the main house when it was on the market. Its a dream property, on the hill, a 120 year old Victorian House, overlooking Cupid’s Key, walking distance to Club Med Beach – the most beautiful beach I know.

They booked me for four days early June. Two travel and two shooting.

“Bring your tools and your favorite designs, we’ll do the rest.”

If the camera added ten pounds then it was the time for a diet.

I did a two-day fast, a nine-day shake/powder regimen and swam a million lengths of the pool.

I departed, lithe and pre-tanned.

First to arrive, I chose the ground floor bedroom of the main house because it was the most private, like a mini wing, overlooking the pool and the Caribbean sea to the west. Everything was new, done by an Italian designer with exquisite taste, who’d mixed old with high-tech, quirky with traditional.

I got my old red truck from the garage.

I was already happy.

A few hours later the crew arrived. Curt, Sean, Jason, Michael, Scotty and Tyler.

Six surfers from California.

Had I died and gone to heaven?

OK. Yes! I am happily married. I’m a mother of three. I’m not young as such.

But hey, I’m still a woman!

lunch at the Beach House

I had an eery feeling –  after  years of being a service-driven mother, feeding, cleaning, chauffeuring, organizing and wondering  (within the safety of my own head):

What about me?

A dawning sense that maybe someone (who can hear beyond the safety of my own head), had been listening, that somehow I had been good enough, that getting attention was actually allowed when you try your hardest to be a good wife and mother and employee and world citizen…

And I let go.

Snap.

This was  going to be about me (and my obsession with beach plastic) and it was OK.

Those six guys were awesome, I don’t know much about them beyond those four days, but they were easy going, considerate, creative, charming, talented, professional and funny, so funny…

They made it possible for me to be me. To do my work, make my stuff, tell my message without ever making me feel self-conscious or insecure. At least three cameras captured me at work for at least 24  hours. It felt natural. It felt great. I felt beautiful. They helped me believe that what I was doing was worthwhile.

I wanted it to last a bit longer.

Last shot, left to right, Tyler, Jason, Barbi, Curt, Sean, Michael and Scotty

Still, we dispersed. They went on to do the next “innovator”, Tim in Australia, and I was just a tad jealous.

But I mainly felt empowered. Things were falling into place. back home I was asked to apply for the Miami TED talk. I went on my teaching trip around Eleuthera.

*

Last night I saw I Don’t Know How She Does It with my three daughters. I had read the book at a time when I identified with the author, when I was the overcommitted mother of three little girls who felt she had to do it all, or else…

Leila wanted to know if I had ever felt like Kate did in the film.

You mean, like, I Don’t Know How I Did It?

Kiki and Leila @ 2 years, by barred stairs in Milford.

My daughters are now eleven and fifteen. I asked if they remembered when I was the Mother with a Career in NYC.

They don’t!

They don’t remember that I went to Hong Kong for two weeks over Christmas when they were six months old, nor being in day care at age two because the latest nanny had disappeared without trace while I worked on 7th Avenue three days a week (living in Milford,PA). They don’t remember my equivalent of  Kate Reddy’s bake-sale angst amongst the zealous fundraising stay-at-home mothers of the Homestead School.

Its great to find out that it it did not matter. That they are fine. More than fine. That I can forgive myself for those perceived shortcomings, that getting off the fashion merry-go-round to have more time at home with them was a good choice too. That feeling out of it and disconnected and fat and dumb maybe was just a cocoon, a small, limited space, where the next incarnation of me could shape itself.

Of course we always are exactly where we should be.

This is easy to see with the gift of hindsight, like looking at an old photograph and wondering why you did not really enjoy the way you looked back then.

When I first saw One Beach I felt that I was exactly where I should be in the big picture of life.

So.

Thank you all Barefooters for making this possible.

Jason Baffa, Scotty and Tyler for making me look good.

Michael Pizzo for producing and Curt O’Brien for setting it up.

Sean O’Brien for his creative foresight and green spirit that gave birth to the idea of One Beach.

And of course the entire Barefoot Wine team in California and New York that worked so hard to pull it all off in time for the premiere in NYC  last week.

We were all there.

In New York.

The team that made One Beach and the people it featured, called The Innovators in the film.

Kevin Cunningham, a surfer from Rhode Island who incorporates beach plastic in making surfboards from recycled materials.

Richard Lang and beautiful Judith Selby Lang, the king and queen of beach plastic, fell in love on their first date while combing Kehoe Beach for plastic debris. They incorporate beach plastic in their art from installations to photography and jewelry.

Left to right: Stephanie Gallo, Kevin Cunningham, Sean O'Brien, Barbara de Vries Jason Baffa, Judith and Richard Lang, Elizabeth and Anne. Lying in foreground is Tyler from Smash.

We watched the first screening together, wept at the end, and were all amazed at the synergy between us, four people who have never met, in three different parts of the US, who collect and work with beach plastic and whose dialog and message has evolved in an eerily similar way without ever speaking to each other.

We also had beach plastic envy as we drooled over pieces in each other’s collection.

The premiere was at the Helen Mills theatre in Chelsea, with a live feed to our own Facebook app where over 5000 people had signed up to watch the film and subsequent Q and A online.

Sitting in the director’s chairs, below ground in NYC, taking questions that Tyler, our MC, received on his Ipad from Facebookers all over, had a surreal sense of opportunity, the feeling that when we  all connect we can make a difference.

Below is  the One Beach film, which we hope will help raise awareness of beach plastic pollution. Numbers just released estimate that six million tons of what becomes “marine debris” (non organic material that does not break down) enters the oceans every year. One Beach has a positive message, it is upbeat about creativity and possibility, but none of us have the illusion that just  selling up-cycled beach plastic into ownership can significantly reduce what washes up on our beaches every day with every tide and every wave. We want to connect to people through beauty, and our message is to for everyone to reduce our plastic foot print (300 pounds per person every year) NOW by saying no to single-use plastics.

Tip: Start with refusing bottled water and plastic shopping bags, relatively easy steps, then pick an alternative material every time there is a choice…

Here are Sean’s pictures of the making of One Beach in Eleuthera:  link

Sunset from the pool at Squires


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Back and Doing the Other Miami…

I’m back.

From pastoral Pennsylvania to crazy Miami.

To the bachelor pad which is being de-bachelored by turning the “pool” room (as in shooting pool with your mates at 3 am, after getting home from the Wall without scoring)  into a third bedroom for the twins so they can do homework, hang out, bicker and sleep behind a wall (instead of the exposed upper mezzanine).

Tiesto mural in pool room will be preserved

Of course this was to be done in the ample two months that we were away and of course it was started on the Friday we returned. So now we neither have an office (pool room) nor a bedroom for the girls since everything from one room is piled in the other.

But thats OK.

They say they will be done by Wednesday.

They say.

They said they’d be done by now.

But I’m not bothered. There are bigger problems.

Like school uniforms.

Maybe one has to be genetically programmed to deal with procuring kid’s uniforms. Maybe I’m too hippy-dippy Dutch to even think about universal clothing for creative kids. See I always look to blame myself first (Have you noticed? Do you do that too? I wish I were a bit more Teaparty, and blame everyone else. Like only everyone else all the time.), still I was proud to have gathered, at Woodbury Common (Like/Love), four khaki bottoms that my trendy twins would deign to wear to school, and one pair of black pants that may get them sent home (while the color is right, the fit will be deemed too sexy, which in this city of underdressed exhibitionists is paradoxical but don’t get me started, I already wrote that blog.)

The preppy polo tops have to be bought locally since they are emblazoned with the Miami Arts Charter School logo.

lime, teal, white or black with MAC logo

Another bigger problem was getting an e-mail from TED, shortly after arrival, requesting a full run-through of my talk at 1 pm on Wednesday. This Wednesday? This Wednesday!

TED? But I was still on uniforms. Saturday was uniform day on my “what to do when we get back” list. Which also has finish homework with the girls, unpack, get food in fridge, get 2nd floor toilet and phone fixed , you know the drill.

TED!

So while I should be writing and practicing my TED talk, I’m chasing uniforms.

Yes, I’d ordered them online as the school suggested, but got a notice a few days ago that the polo’s would be ready for delivery in 5 weeks!

WTF? Right?

What are the suggesting? Homeschooling for five weeks? I mean the school is clear:

All students and parents have agreed to abide by the school uniform as described in the parent/student contract signed during registration.

Students not in uniform will be required to contact their parent and sent home.

I’m scared!
Ibiley suggests I visit any of their conveniently located Miami stores.
They lied. None of them are conveniently located. All of them are in scary shit neighborhoods that are at least  40 minutes away.

I settled on North Miami and was wise enough to call first, just to make sure they had said polos in stock, but of course got the robot who told me that August is too busy to answer the phone, and tells me to leave a message.

They’re also too busy to answer.

I find out just how busy.

But not till after getting lost in the maze of NE and NW 159th street Drive and Street and Court, at the very place where 95, the turnpike and 539 intersect in a spider-web of flyovers and underpasses and of course the exit ramp that Mapquest told me to use is Closed for Construction.

What?

You are sorry for the inconvenience?

Fuck you!

Why not just post some signs up telling how to get the fuck to Ibeley Uniforms in the industrial park (with one entrance) that I can see from the overpass which points towards the Everglades, at 70 miles an hour.

OK. So.

50 minutes later, and isn’t it amazing how proud those moments can make you (forget about a TED talk), I pull up in front of Ibiley.

Pride turns to nausea in a nano second.

Swarming around the  huge warehouse, are hundreds of people of many colors (none quite as white as the three of us), several  stainless steel quilted food trucks are randomly parked, and something that resembles a long line, made up from entire families (bring the kids, the toddlers, the babies, the grannies, aunts, uncles and don’t forget the neighbors) comes out from the front door into the 95 degree sunshine.

We “politely” battle our way inside only to find many feet of empty shelves and another line that resembles immigration at JFK before Christmas.

Determined (if nothing else) I find 8 tees (4 each), while yelling at the twins to help me. Unfortunately they’re catatonic with the otherness of it all, like in some culture-shock transition from the verdant woods to this urban jungle.

We join the immigration line.

After ten minutes we move close enough to spot a tiny sign over the counter.

We are out of the folowing logo patches. (you buy the tees and pay in line #1, they give you your school’s logo patches, you join line #2, the one outside, and they apply the patches).

Come back on the 28th and we will apply them for free,, it also read. (You’d have to bloody well pay ME to come back!).

There’s no actual list of said missing patches posted. I guess it changes by the minute.

So.

I grab an Ibiley sales girl who looks like she will get really drunk that night.

MAC is not on her list of out-of-stock patches.

I ponder if this is good news. I’m rather praying for an excuse to leave. But it sounds like we will be there for the next few hours. (Could I get into this Cuban/Caribbean/South American block-party atmosphere?).

The girl walks away.

The girl comes back.

“You are at the wrong location”, she says. “MAC uses special embroidery and is only available at our Little Havana store on SW 8th Street.”

We are on NW 167th street.

You have to be from Miami to know what that really means, but imagine flying to London instead of Sydney.

We are fucked.

We leave the line.

We are hungry and buy three sandwiches, and three Cuban drink cans ( sexy looking mixed mango. papaya, passion fruit that taste like water) from the guilted truck.

“Mom, these are the best sandwiches I’ve ever had,” the twins chime, “Yes, at least we got some really good sandwiches out of it.”

They encourage me. (Afraid that I might have a shit-fit meltdown?)

Instead I find 95 South (easy), and head towards Little Havana.

I call husband who is on the porch in PA and tells me its the first nice day in weeks.

@#$%^&* !!

He also tells me to give myself a break.

He often tells me this.

I listen. The only breaks I take are the ones he tells me to take.

He’s good to me in that way.

“You did your best,” he says. “Go home, have a swim, enjoy being back.”

He has a point.

I compromise with myself. I settle on Target, which I happen to be passing, buy the last three (a terrible number for twins) white polo’s and  HP iron-0n tee shirt transfer paper.

I feel clever.

I shall go home, get the MAC logo online and iron it on.

Which I do.

While arguing with the MAC principal in my mind that this is as good as the real thing from Little Havana and that the Ibiley store was completely out of stock (good chance of that anyway, right? Given the odds so far?)

While the trip to Little Havana still looms, since three tees between twins won’t last me the promised five weeks.

They wont even last two days.

And then there is TED.

TED needs attention.

As soon as the girls are in school TED will be my lover.

I promise TED my undivided attention….