My mother’s name was Artice. It was an unusual name, and it brought her unusual attention. Almost everyone thought, on first hearing, that her name was Artist. So she was an artist, and she was a mom. I am a mom, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that I am an Artist too.
A few months ago, the photographer Denise Andrade came up to my house and before she could knock at the front door I opened up a side door from the bedroom and hollered for her to come in. So she came in through the bedroom. I suspect that’s the way she comes in most places, through the hidden chamber, to the real you. She said something right off that she will not remember, but that I will not forget, since it is something that I would never in my right mind say about me. She said:
You have a cute figure.
I think that’s why she got pictures that looked like this. Like no one I’m used to seeing, but who must live around here off a side door to a hidden chamber.
Now I’m not supposed to be hidden. I make a point of being all up front and in your face. But even that pose, you know, that Zen pose can get stale and predictable. I’m so glad I didn’t fool Denise for one minute. She has an eye, you might say, that doesn’t sleep. That’s a big-time Zen compliment, but I’ll leave it to you to find out what it means.
I asked Denise to come over because I wanted updated author photos. Because I want to be up front and in your face. Because the last ones were taken three years ago, and because a lot can happen in three years when you get to be my age. So then Denise went and made me look about 30 years younger.
A friend I haven’t seen or spoken too in 15 years saw one of Denise’s photos of me online and said, “Is Zen the secret of ageless beauty?” Zen is ageless beauty all right, but Denise is the secret.
So if you’re an artist, like a writer, and you need a stunning author photo for a book jacket or something, even if there is no book jacket in sight, especially if there is no book jacket in sight, you should go straightaway to Denise and invite her in through a side door. Sometimes you have to get a photo first, and then the book jacket shows up. I know. This one here is the photo my Dutch publisher chose. That’s right, Dutch as in the Netherlands as in Amsterdam, where Georgia and I are going, courtesy of my Dutch publisher, in April, to celebrate the Dutch translation of Momma Zen.