Self Portrait Challenge: Pop Art #1

Sometimes I feel like I’m going a bit crazy. It’s like I have three kids sometimes

A few nights ago Dave and I were getting Julia ready for bed – I brushed her teeth and hair and once she’d put her jammies on, we tiptoed into her room (so we didn’t wake her sleeping brother).

Dave was lying on her bed waiting for us and we crawled in and snuggled together, Julia in between us. We were goofing around and being silly; Dave was trying to get Julia to stick her finger in my armpit and we were both tickling her, drinking up her infectious giggles.

Julia pulled the sheet up over our heads, tent-style, and we pretended to camp out under the stars. “We’re in a tent, Mummy,” she said, propping herself on her side to face me.

I smiled. “Yup, we are.”

“Hey Julia,” Dave said, a slow grin spreading across his face.

She rolled onto her back and looked at him. “Yeah?”

“You wanna pretend we’re in an oven?” he asked excitedly.

“Yeah!” Julia shouted.

“In Holland?!”

Three guesses what he did next.

The Giant Gold Head

Yesterday afternoon I put a baby gate at the top of the stairs going from our kitchen to the family room and let Oliver crawl around the main floor. I trailed behind him, watching to see what he made a beeline for then putting it out of his reach.
When he got to the hope chest turned coffee table in the front living room, he pulled himself up and surveyed the items on top: a framed photograph of me and Dave on our honeymoon, a clay statue of a woman sitting cross-legged, chutes of bamboo that Dave’s trying to root…and The Giant Gold Head.

 

Remember way back when on Wheel of Fortune when contestants could spend their winnings on luxury items featured in the on-site shopping gallery? The bigger ticket items were like, trips and cruises or a pair of Sea-Doo’s, while the blatantly less expensive items included art, jewelry or ghastly tchotchkes like giant ceramic Dalmatians or gaudy-looking busts of some chic 80’s queen smeared with green eyeshadow and hot pink lipstick.

The Giant Gold Head looks like it came straight from the Wheel of Fortune boutique. It’s a head and shoulders bust of a woman with wavy ridges for hair and a vacant expression. It’s quite heavy, fairly large and totally fugly. And gold.

At first glance, it’s kind of creepy looking. The first time I ever saw The Giant Gold Head was after an evening at the bar. I was drunk and trying not to wake my mom up, but I mistook the head, perched atop the entertainment unit, for a guy in a ski mask ready to pounce. Commence screaming.

“What the fuck is that?” I gasped at my mom, who’d dashed downstairs to see what I was shrieking about.

“It’s art,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest defiantly.

I looked at her, up at the head and back at her again. “Where did you get it?”

“I bought it from an art gallery,” she said, a hint of pride lacing her voice.

I was shocked. “You paid money for that?”

“I like it,” she said. “I don’t care if you don’t like it. I do.”

“But it’s so…big. And so…gold,” I stammered.

I mean, tell me this wouldn’t freak you out if you saw it staring at you from the shadows:

I can see why she bought it – it’s a very strong and unique piece; standalone, all of which are qualities my mom possessed. She had a strong impulsive streak and it didn’t surprise me one bit that she’d gone to an art gallery just to browse and walked out with a creepy gold bust.

She was a collector of odd things; the bust fit right in with the brightly colored wooden parrots on sticks, the waist-high purple horse and her assortment of antique bobbins and darning needles.

She loved The Giant Gold Head – she’d put funky, wide-brimmed hats on it and would move it from place to place in the house every so often. And after a while, The Giant Gold Head kind of grew on me. It’s so ugly it’s almost beautiful, in a strange sort of way. There’s something alluring about it – the curves that shape her neck and shoulders, her pouty lips…even the color, as hideous as it is, is striking.

The four-year anniversary of my mom’s death is next month and I’ve been thinking about her a lot, more than usual. I’ve been missing her a great deal lately and have found myself in tears on a couple of occasions, which is something I generally don’t do – I rarely cry over missing my mom.

I lifted The Giant Gold Head out of Oliver’s reach yesterday, set it on the oak sideboard and smiled to myself. I have a lot of things that were my mother’s that remind me of her, many of which make me think of a specific time in our lives, but the Giant Gold Head is something that reminds me of her – her personality, her sense of humor, her uniqueness. How she could take something so fucking ugly and make it beautiful.

I love this fugly-beautiful gold head and how it reminds me of my mom.