Discovering Our Inner Lewis and Clark

Centennial Mills Snowscape II oil, wax on panel 2019 by Julianna Paradisi from an image of the 2017 Portland snowstorm

Those of us living in the Banana Belt of downtown Portland were spared the large amount (up to 8 inches) of snow dumped onto adjacent neighborhoods and outlying towns this past weekend.

Michelle Obama cancelled her trip to the Rose City because of the weather reports predicting Snowmagedon, after Seattle was blanketed in 5 inches of snow in only a few hours. Flights between Seattle and Portland were cancelled.

On Friday night we got a dusting of powder. Saturday morning, although air temps only reached 30° F, the sidewalks were clear except small patches of ice here and there, gone by noon.

The rest of the weekend was pretty nice, in terms of weather. In fact, the sun shone gloriously most of Sunday. I got a slightly pink sunburn from an hour’s worth of it shining on my face through the window during barre class.

The Internet guffawed mercilessly at the forecasters. Twitter and Facebook popped with snarky photo memes. Portland weather forecasters are used to the heckling, similar to our local sports teams when they lose.

Unpredictable weather is a part of life in Portland, treated like a personality participating in all social events like that crazy relative everyone suspects will act out but is invited to the wedding anyway.

It was reported with great humor that all the kale in Portland grocery stores had vanished from the shelves as panicked Portlanders stocked up on essentials to sustain them during the predicted week-long siege of Snowstorm 2019.

I hadn’t planned to go to the studio on Saturday, because we had tickets to see Michelle Obama. When she cancelled Friday afternoon, I still  didn’t plan to go because of the predicted inclement weather. When the snow accumulation proved slight, I still didn’t go because something inside me suspected foul play on the part of the storm: It was just an unexpected break in the weather; the really bad stuff could start any moment. These thoughts were somewhat fueled by reports and photos posted by Facebook friends attesting there was significant snow in selected Portland neighborhoods.

So I adapted. I scheduled barre classes instead of my weekend runs along the river. I did laundry. I meditated. I read my Tarot cards, and then journaled about what I thought the reading meant. I read a book. I took a nap. I made a pot of soup. I texted my husband who had to work the weekend. I told him I loved him and missed him, adorning the texts with happy faces blowing kisses emojis.

It didn’t snow.

On Sunday there were occasional light flurries of powdery snowflakes that melted on contact into tear drops falling from the railings of my deck. I took another barre class, but ventured no further from home than that.

We ate leftover soup that night for dinner.

The whole weekend was entirely anti-climatic.

I wasn’t alone in my feelings I discovered on Monday morning at work. When the topic of “the snowstorm that wasn’t” came up, and it did often, everyone said the same thing. They had been unable to reorganize their weekend plans to make use of the unexpectedly good weather. Almost everyone made soup. Lots of soup, too much soup for one family and they shared portions with their neighbors.

Disappointment was the most commonly expressed emotion. We had looked forward to being homebound by the snow that never fell.

In my mind, we were mourning our inner Lewis and Clark. A snowstorm gives us a cause to focus on as a community. But more than this, a snowstorm provides the opportunity to test our inner resilience, because in reality, Portlanders are closet survivalists. Note that stores ran out of kale, bread, milk and bacon. There were no shortages of parkas, snow boots, traction devices to put on the boots, or of generators, or snow tires, That’s because households already have these things, and every neighborhood has a neighbor with a big sturdy truck with all-wheel drive who will happily volunteer to take you to work at the hospital or wherever it is you need to be.

Oregon is home to the last of the pioneers headed west. Europeans discovered Hawaii long before Lewis and Clark arrived on the Oregon coast. In Oregon, we have travelled as far west as one can on the continent of this great country.

Those of us who came to Oregon from other places as young people came because we wished to connect with our inner Lewis and Clark; at least I did. I learned to start a fire from kindling I split myself from wood taken from the cord I stacked in the fall to get me through winter. I came because I love the change of seasons, the colors of fall, the damp, grey mossiness of winter that breaks into the brilliant smile of spring. I left the monotonous days of the state where it never rains to experience the full palette of nature.

Like my fellow Oregonians, I relish the threat of a Snowpocalypse for its gift of revelation: who I am, and what I am capable of.

And like my fellow Oregonians, I’m a little lost when the Snowpocalypse doesn’t arrive.

Random Thoughts on The Freedom of Speech, Nostalgia, and The 4th of July

As I write, there is a man in jail vehemently defending his freedom of speech. He chose to exercise his freedom on public transportation, a Max train, by screaming hate speech at two teenage girls, one African American, the other Muslim. His harassment of the girls so escalated that three men placed themselves between the attacker and the girls. All three men were viciously stabbed, two of them fatally. On the evening news the attacker maniacally justified the stabbings as his right to protect his freedom of speech.

Portland remains traumatized by this act of horrendous violence that made national headlines; an act of savagery that simultaneously documents the very worst, and the very best of our community.

***

I learned about freedom of speech in the public elementary school of the small town where I grew up. Our teachers taught us to temper our opinions with civility and common sense: “Freedom of speech doesn’t allow you to yell, ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie theater,” we were instructed. Or as another teacher graphically put it, “Your freedom of speech extends to the end of your nose,” meaning you have the right to say it, but your words may earn you a punch in the face.

Untitled

Untitled by Julianna Paradisi mixed media on vellum 2016

My nostalgic elementary school memories are charming, yet they were created during a time of great national unrest. I’m probably as young as an adult can be with a bona fide memory (not one created by archival footage) of the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. During the years my teachers were explaining Freedom of Speech to me and my classmates, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and Robert Kennedy too. On the evening news throughout my elementary school years, we witnessed the Watts Riots, and learned four students at Kent State University were shot to death while protesting the Viet Nam war.

I learned “A punch in the face,” was a euphemism used by my teachers to explain to their students a world they struggled to understand.

***

Since the Tri Met stabbings, several random, less publicized stabbings have occurred in Portland.

I seldom drive. My chosen mode of travel is on foot. Since the stabbings, I’ve not walked the downtown as much as I used to. I’m not alone in restricting activity to reduce vulnerability to violence.

I’m told Muslim women wearing hajib are avoiding public transportation since the attack on the two girls. For some, public transportation is their only means of travel, and they’ve become isolated in their homes.

***

A few days ago, the sun rose bright, and warm. I decided to walk to a downtown department store to make a return. A block from the department store, I passed a Tri Met stop. I chose to not over think it.

In the women’s clothing department, I came around the escalator at the same time a Muslim woman wearing a hajib came around from behind a large rack of clothing. Neither of us are tall, which is why we didn’t see each other until we nearly collided. I startled, but she froze in place the way a deer crossing a road at night freezes in the sudden glare of oncoming headlights. Her beautiful, kohl-lined eyes heightened the image. But it was the tension of her body that told me she prepared for verbal attack.

I smiled, and said, “Hello.” The tension melted from her body. She smiled, and nodded. We went on our separate ways.

We were the same: two women venturing out alone, downtown, on a sunny day in the land of the free on 4th of July weekend.

Freedom of Speech, home of the brave, land of the free: This 4th of July I pause to think about what these words mean, and how they apply to my life. They’ve become simultaneously incongruous, and yet familiar.

What is the word for a nostalgia that includes memories of bigotry and hate?

This 4th of July, I honor those who fought for independence, creating America, my home, and who wrote The Constitution to protect our freedoms. I am proud to be an American. I am nostalgic for a country where freedom rings with civility and justice.

 

 

 

 

 

You Can Find Me Here

Calligraphy by jparadisi (not in Equine show; I just like it)

About Face is a new magazine in Portland, featuring interviews of local celebrities, artists, and entrepreneurs. You will find the summer issue by clicking here, then download the PDF by clicking on the cover thumbnail on the lower right sidebar.  If you scroll to page 70 you will find a small photograph of my painting Twenty-One, currently part of the Froelick Gallery group show Equine. There’s a little information about the painting as well. Equine runs through July 16, 2011.

Dr. Dean Burke at Millionaire Nurse Blog mentioned my post, 10 Things to Do On Time-Limited Medical Leave in the Nurse Blog Round Up: The Arse Sitting Edition. Thank you!

Equine Group Show at The Froelick Gallery for June First Thursday

Last night was the opening reception for the Froelick Gallery group show, Equine. I am fortune that my painting Twenty-Oneis included among the work of many accomplished artists. Tonight is First Thursday, and there is a reception for the show from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. The show runs all of June, through July 16, 2011.

The Froelick Gallery is located at 714 NW Davis Street, Portland Oregon, 97209.

Artist Statement for Twenty-One

The painting Twenty-One is inspired by the prehistoric drawings found on the walls of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in France. These drawings, made before humans possessed written language, are the earliest known record of primordial expression, and they are images of horses. Later, humans learned to use symbols instead of pictures to create words. Inspired by the transition of pictorial language into words, the repetitive form of grazing horses in Twenty-One suggests ancient cuneiform. Impressed by stylus into clay tablets, cuneiform script marks the abstraction of pictorial expression into symbolic characters. It is the precursor of the modern  alphabet.

Twenty-One by jparadisi

June Art Show at The Froelick Gallery in Portland

In June, I have a painting in the horse-themed Equine, a group show at the Froelick Gallery, opening June 1-July 16, 2011.

The Unipiper Wishes You a Merry Christmas From Portland, Oregon

In Portland, Oregon, we have bumper stickers that read: Keep Portland Weird. Really, it doesn’t take that much effort, which is one of many reasons I love living here.

A coworker brought this YouTube video to my attention, and I’m sharing it with you. Merry Christmas!

Looking for Bombs and for Tumors: When Does Risk Outweigh Benefit?

November 27 2010, Pioneer Square, Portland, Oregon after foiled bomb plot. photo: jparadisi

On Friday night, to coin the phrase of writer Anne Lamott, I began the “sh#*tty first draft” of a new blog post discussing the TSA’s use of full body scan radiation at the airport. I’ve blogged before about how the health care industry looks to the airline industry for quality control ideas. The TSA uses two kinds of scanners, and one of them uses radiation with little safety monitoring for the cumulative exposure of their employees, airline passengers, or flight crews. Health care can provide quality control models of x-ray scanner safety to the TSA.

Overnight, my plans changed.

On Saturday morning, I awoke to the news that the FBI thwarted a terrorist bomb plot in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. 19 year-old Mohamed Osam Mohamud of Corvallis, Oregon tried detonating a van loaded with what he thought were 55-gallon barrels of explosives during the annual tree lighting ceremony in Pioneer Square, “Portland’s Living Room.” An estimated crowd of 10,000 people, many of them children, was gathered in the square. According to news reports, the terrorist said he wanted everyone “to leave the square dead or injured.” Thanks to FBI intervention, the bomb was inert.  No one was physically injured, but terrorism has found its way to my front door. I went to work on Saturday morning with a heavy heart.

When I found a tumor hidden like a bomb inside my body, I wasn’t 40 years old yet. Overnight, my life changed. Despite my personal experience, the new recommendations for mammograms suggest that risk outweighs the benefit of screening for most women under age 50. According to the task force, regular mammograms for women aged 40-49 over a 10 year period saves one life out of every 1,904 women screened. Their data suggests that the risk of breast cancer is too small to warrant mammograms for women younger than 50. Self-breast examinations, once vigorously encouraged, are no longer considered reliable.

I wonder how many people have to receive a full body scan in order to apprehend one suicide bomber at the airport? Are the enhanced pat downs effective? The TSA focuses on preventing mid-air explosions, but what prevents a terrorist from designing a less spectacular bomb that detonates in a crowded airport during a TSA pat down, or by a hidden accomplice while the suicide bomber steps into the scanner?  The car bomb in Pioneer Square did not arrive via the airport. Can the TSA’s addition of full body scans and enhanced pat downs really protect our society from malignant harm? At what point does risk outweigh benefit?

From Cradle to Grave: The Color White Reviewed in Willamette Week

Portland based art critic Richard Speer writes about the paintings of From Cradle to Grave: The Color White, my art show at the Anka Gallery, in the visual arts section of this week’s Willamette Week.

The highlights of the four-person show Kalos Eidos (Color/Beauty/Form) are the haunting paintings of Julianna Paradisi. The artist takes on the color white, normally associated with purity and nobility, and coaxes the creepiness out of it. Her eerie children in christening outfits, brides with empty eyes, and downright scary nurses in white uniforms are deeply unsettling. The fact that Paradisi is herself a registered nurse adds an additional layer of autobiography and ambiguity to the work.” by Richard Speer for WW, http://wweek.com/events/latest/visualarts/#36.49

The Anka Gallery will host an open house reception on Thursday, October 21, 2010 from 4pm to 7pm. From Cradle to Grave: The Color White is part of the group show Kalos Eidos, curated by Anna Solcaniova King.  The show closes October 29th.

From Cradle to Grave: The Color White Opens Oct 7 at The Anka Gallery

Sometimes My Surgical Mask Feels Like a Gag 2010 by JParadisi

If you’re in Portland, Oregon this week stop by the Anka Gallery and see my new series of paintings From Cradle to Grave: The Color White, and the work of three other featured artists.  The spacious Anka Gallery is located in the Old Town neighborhood’s Everett Station Lofts.  The opening reception is First Thursday, October 7, 6pm-10pm.

Art Exhibiton Mentioned in Off the Charts Post

From Cradle to Grave: The Color White

Thank you to American Journal of Nursing art editor, Sylvia Foley for mentioning my October show, From Cradle to Grave: The Color White in yesterday’s post on the AJN blog Off the Charts.

The link to Portland’s Anka Gallery is also appreciated!