Ramona Lives Her Life

Last weekend Kody and I masked up for an event at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston called The Marzio Years. Peter C. Marzio was the museum’s longest-serving director from 1982-2010, and the exhibition celebrates his thirty years of acquisitions.

At the museum entrance, an attendant took our temperature from an eight-foot distance with a device that looked like a camera. I’m not sure how that worked, but I didn’t ask questions. We were deemed good to go. Kody and I spent some time with Munch and O’Keefe, Pollock and Picasso, Rembrandt and Rothko. We saw Warhol, too.

Marzio helped found the MFAH International Center for the Arts of the Americas. He expanded African-American, Texan, and Latino art collections. When I visit the art museum, my goal is to really see one piece. Of course, I’ll see more, but I wait for the one that sees me. The one piece that will see me and speak. And da dum, da duh—this is she:

Ramona vive su vida (Ramona Lives Her Life), 1963

According to the museum plaque, Ramona Lives Her Life is one of the most iconic prints of the Ramona series. Argentinean Antonio Berni’s “xylo-collage” technique earned him the acclaim of international critics. Berni glued and collaged elements from Ramona’s everyday life—lace, machine parts, discarded gears and other industrial refuse—onto the woodblock print. This method gives his work an elaborate texture and relief.

I thought about Ramona…and me…and you…We are textured people. With interwoven fibers and elements. With distinctive qualities. Ramona in all of her texture reminded me to live my life. In these days of COVID, life looks different for us based on our qualities. As an introvert, I’m okay living my life at home. School is my life for now. I read books, and I’m writing one, too. I enjoy this time. School is online. Distanced. I walk outside most days. Distanced. I notice the squirrels fattening up. Do squirrels always size up in the fall? I’ve never noticed. The sun sparkles in the leaves at the tops of the trees. I take pleasure in these observations. I try to stay connected with my friends and family by text and phone. From a distance. Our conversations weave us together. These interwoven fibers make us stronger.

Sometimes I find myself surrounded by drama. That happens in families. I usually find myself able to distance from drama, except when it comes to my kids. With mental illness in the family, I’m not at liberty to give ultimatums. I mean, of course, I could. But I don’t want to be the mother who gives up. In my experience, there is no reasoning with brain disorders. Sometimes I feel like I’ve hit my drama quotient, like I just can’t share any more ridiculous stories, even with my closest friends. My introverted self keeps the drama concealed until I feel I might be breaking. How many times have I glued my own pieces back together? Then suddenly, I run into a piece of art called Ramona Lives Her Life. Ramona whispers directly to my heart, “Girl, go live your life.” I rub my hands together and feel their texture. Age. Experience. Ramona says, “You’ve made sacrifices your whole life. Take care of yourself, and speak your truth.” I allow these ideas to sink in. There is silence. I think of my own lace. My own machine parts. Ramona speaks again, “Your fibers are strong. You can handle whatever comes your way, and you inspire others to do the same. Be courageous, and do you.”   

65 thoughts on “Ramona Lives Her Life

  1. Thank you for this challenging blog. My husband and I are in the category where we are considered vulnerable. We have had little contact with others since March, but just this week I decided I couldn’t continue in isolation. We invited a couple over to play cards and have dinner with us. With so much food left over, two days later I invited another couple in. Yes, I was taking a chance but like Ramona, I’m ready to live my life. 

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hello Claudette! I hate that you are in the vulnerable population. My parents and in-laws are, too. Who would have thought all these months later this would be life? Thanks for reading. Take care of yourself and stay well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We all need inspiration right now Crystal. Thanks for sharing yours. It amazes me how much more we appreciate what little snippets of life we are allowed to enjoy in the current normal. Stay well and stay inspired. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like this one. It’s another one where we can see your struggle and your grace. I really admire your grace quite a lot. I have a different kind of struggle but I don’t have any of that grace you exude. I also enjoyed this thing about the fat squirrels. I adore squirrels. I feed them nuts at my place.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks for sharing this journey with Ramona. This pandemic has turned so many things upside down. Finding ways to keep breathing are always welcome and needed. But there are rare moments when I feel like yelling out the window, “I’m mad as can be, and I won’t take it anymore.” (Paraphrasing Peter Finch from the film “Network”)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I wish I could’ve told him myself (1905-1981). There was a series of three Ramonas at this exhibit. One was titled Ramona aprendiz o Ramona pupila (Ramona Apprentice or Ramona the Pupil). In this one Ramona is a chorus dancer and a modern day courtesan. She’s a working-class girl from the Pompeya or Villa Crespo district of Buenos Aires. I just found her fascinating.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. This dropped in when I finished reading. There is a weave and an ecology to the weave of the entire universe. We, as humans are time weavers in our performance art of a human being. You have touched that in this post. Thanks for the reminder. Be well.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Crystal,

    No better truth was ever spoken! [Just] Do you!

    “…and you inspire others to do the same.”

    INDEED, for I am honestly inspired.

    Wonderful art m’dear. Just absolutely wonderful!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Love this artwork, and your metaphor of our textures and mixed media. We need the reminder to live life these days. I’m thrilled that you’re writing a book… what’s it about? Sending love and beauty your way. 💕

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Collette. I needed the reminder, too. I hadn’t been to the art museum since January, and I have a membership.

      I’m working on a memoir about my journey toward help for my son’s schizophrenia. I’m getting closer. I’ll submit it next semester as my thesis for school.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I love the art piece and I enjoyed how you interpreted the mixture of textures and applied them to your post, and our lives. It’s ironic we strive to simplify our lives but our lives, thoughts, and experiences are so complicated.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This couldn’t come at a better time, my family is currently dealing with a neighbor who is bi-polar, you can not reason with him, or even have a discussion. We’ve all been so absorbed in dissecting this issue, what we should do, how should we manage someone who has malicious intentions? Mental illness is so toxic, one guy has put ten of us in shambles. Maybe the answer lies in not dealing with his issues, but living our lives, and disengaging with his foolishness as much as possible? Great post Crystal, C

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hate that for his family and for your neighborhood. I can relate. And I’ve been processing this for awhile, like ten years. It’s been a middle-age epiphany that I have to take care of myself first, and that’s not selfish.

      At the same time, I may be naive, but I want to believe that no one is truly malicious, only that people have malfunctioning brains. I keep wondering when we’ll treat illnesses of the mind like we do illnesses of the body. It’s no one’s fault, but we have to deal with it. And we all need to be more like Ramona in the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ramona Lives Her #Life

    [ ]

    Last weekend Kody and I masked up for an #event at the #Museum of Fine Arts #Houston (
    @MFAH
    ) called The Marzio Years.

    Peter C. Marzio was the museum’s longest-serving director from 1982-2010.

    Like

  11. Here’s what I hear you saying in this post: life is complicated, but you still should live it!

    “Don’t be afraid of mistakes. There aren’t any”. Miles Davis

    I appreciate your skillful words, Crystal. They truly helped me today. God’s best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! Love the Miles Davis quote. Life is like jazz. One long improvisation. Thanks for the support, David! I’m happy to hear the right words found you at the right time (much in the same way I stumbled onto Ramona).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing!.. unfortunately the path of life is not easy and filled with challenges, but “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” (Louisa May Alcott).. 🙂

    Hope all is well in your party of the universe and until we meet again..

    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This really touched me Crystal.
    You’re right not to give ultimatums. And I’m more glad than I can say that you’re going living your own life. You’re worth it…
    How is studying going this year?

    Lotsa love, sunshine and sparkles…

    Like

    1. Hello Dear Dolphin Girl! Thank you so much! I appreciate you more than you know—I hope you know.

      Now that it’s officially November, I’m so close to another semester completed. Yay! It’s been wonderful. I’m starting to wonder what will become of me when I graduate in May. I think I deserve a big pay raise. (Anything will seem big after not working for a year or so.)

      Liked by 1 person

  14. The more I study Ramona Lives Her Life, Crystal, the more sense there is in you relating to it above anything else in the gallery.

    As you mentioned, like you, it’s dimensional. Naturally. Last entry you wrote beautifully of a ranch, and of the Nature that informs it. Today it’s an art gallery. Who but someone supremely textured could unify those themes?

    Similarly, Ramona is much more that a flat, two-dimensional object. No, Berni collected bits of the world around Ramona and infused her with their life. She isn’t a static portrait, but instead is a living piece, her pulse beating with the world’s.

    Thus, she animates us. Animates you too, of course. Scintillating write-up, Crystal/Ramona!

    Like

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