Tammy Winters is a uniquely and broadly talented tattoo and mixed media artist who is based out of York, Pennsylvania.
Tammy writes about herself and her work:
“I am a student at York HACC. I graduate this spring with a degree in Fine Art. I am also a tattoo artist at Built to Last in York, PA. I work in a variety of mediums, but I especially enjoy oil painting and charcoal/graphite works. I take commission projects and am currently accepting inquiries.”
Are you an artist of some kind (photographer, sculptor, painter, metal artisan, jeweler) and looking to promote yourself? Want to have your 15 seconds of art? Let us showcase your work on our site! We are looking for artists to submit their art and a brief bio about their work, upcoming events, and any other info we should know. We will post your work and bio on our site, Facebook page, and Instagram page.
I broke my normal morning routine and decided to play music while I was in the shower. This is the first song I heard from the day: Migration by Bonobo on his album, Migration.
I often feel the universe gives us signs of direction and affirmation. Sometimes those signs are loud and blaring in our faces, yet other times are simple and discrete. We do not need to seek out these signs or make them happen—the signs will come to us. This song, Migration, is special to me, because of I have been applying for jobs across the country as of late. I care about the area, which I live, but opportunities are seemingly sparse, particularly in the field of education. We are going through a hideous transformation in our public-school system here and throughout the country as well. It can be disparaging to invest myself deeper and deeper into something I know can’t hold water much longer. Yet we can try our best to get ourselves out of the mire if we are willing to work together, somehow, someday to avoid drowning.
This ugly situation seems parallel to my own life: I am trying to take care of student loans, other bills, and attempting to be a bit more independent as I seek out some job that will enrich my life or simply help me live. I get the impression that education has become survival instead of a way of living. For my one job, I substitute teach as I mentioned in my previous article. I came to class today to find papers on the desk for the students, which in bold letters read, “MIGRATION.” As you can guess, it was a Social Studies class, which the article discussed how and why people migrate across the country. After you read the same article about migration five times to classes and questioned it, the idea of migrating truly sticks with you in some way.
After over 100 job applications, a couple of dead-end interviews, and a slew of incoming rejections, I started to wonder if this is the right move? I aspire to apply for my doctorate, but I have to study for the GREs. I have two masters degrees in two different, yet somewhat overlapping fields and years of experience in both. Consequently, does this make me under-qualified? Overqualified? Are employers confused about my intentions? I apply for jobs I think I would invest myself in (because you never know), but I pulled in many directions. Then, I thought, does migration have to mean “literally moving” instead of figuratively?
Then, I thought, do I even know where I want to go, literally or figuratively? I have some idea.
For the past month, I have been on what I call a “Headspace Journey.” I subscribed to the app, Headspace, which is an app that teaches you meditation and guides you through meditation exercises. There are exercises for different themes, such as “self-esteem,” “productivity,” and “depression.” Andy Puddicombe, who is one of the founders of Headspace and the narrator, says in the lessons that we may feel frustrated that our meditation is not going anywhere. In so many words, he says that we may feel a sense of unease that we are not making progress fast enough, that we want to make something happen. Perhaps, this is, in a sense is relatable to an urge to run away, to “migrate” to some place in the world or our minds that simply is not ready for us to catch up.
In the meantime, as Andy says, “to be aware in the moment,” gives us the ability to be present in our universe. Otherwise, we may miss out on the small details, like the feeling when a student tells me I am/my class his or her favorite part of the day or when a college student asks me, of all people, to write a letter of recommendation for graduate school. I can be present and see those moments I positively impact people. Though most days we can be blind to those moments, because we are inundated with our responsibilities and thoughts which carry us elsewhere. . If I were not “present,” I would have missed out on these signs that the universe is telling me to stay put, in some sense, literally or figuratively.
Until, I figure out where it is I am supposed to be, I will stay right here. And even if and when I do physically leave, a piece of me will always be here…and in the headspace where I imagine myself sitting in a field with a lone fox peacefully watching me find my place.
Melissa Short’s upcoming art exhibition is beyond the stars! According to Short, “T H E P L A N E T S”is a seven part series of paintings that follows Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite, “The Planets, Op. 32.” This orchestral suite corresponds to the solar system. The concept of the work is astrological rather than astronomical, which is why Earth is not included. Each piece is intended to convey ideas and emotions associated with the influence of the planets on the psyche, which she titled the following:
I. Mars – The Bringer of War
II. Venus – The Bringer of Peace
III. Mercury – The Winged Messenger
IV. Jupiter – The Bringer of Jollity
V. Saturn – The Bringer of Old Age
VI. Uranus – The Magician
VII. Neptune – The Mystic
You can see a preview of Melissa’s work on our Instagram page: thirtythirdwheel.
You can see Melissa’s exhibit “T H E P L A N E T S” at The Library Express Bookstore on Friday January 5, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. located at 300 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton PA, 18503.
Today’s featured song is “If it Makes You Happy,” from Sheryl Crow on her album, Sheryl Crow.
Let’s all admit 2017 has been a shitshow in so many ways that it can be interpreted as a teen dystopian novel with elements of dark comedy (covfefe) meeting the traditional dystopian novel elements, like mind-numbing government thought control through the media (I slightly exaggerate, though Fox News adds elements of dark comedy as well). Furthermore, perverts in power ran rampant (seriously, Louis C.K., I’m not surprised at all—you aren’t that funny and to quote you, you are a “bag of dicks”). I am glad these creeps are finally getting the hypothetical kick in the balls they all deserve. At least we are driving away from the traditional narrative that middle class white boys are the only ones that can truly save the world (e.g. Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, the Giver, to name a few). They are beloved classics, but it’s time to move onward and not look back.
Overall, for the lot of us, I believe 2017 has been seemingly the year of some terrible life choices, difficult, decisions, sprinkled in with some bad luck, and grasping at straws for promises of good times. However, this year was a much-needed wake up call to make positive changes. I spent the first half the year living a picturesque lie that my relationship and career were going somewhere—clearly that was a disaster. I kept seeing my family, friends, and coworkers moving on with their lives—getting married or engaged, building new successful careers, buying houses, and generally getting their shit together, while I’ve been lucky to have work at all. It could be worse, yet three part-time jobs leave me a bit confused about my life and unfulfilled. It has been the longest December of my life, which I am being dramatic. You wonder why I didn’t choose “Long December” as my song of the day? I have my reasons not to dwell on the past.
I tried everything I could do make things right and I keep looking for answers, but it all lead to dead ends. All of my crossroads lead me to the same conclusion that people let you down, but life goes on. I would use the colloquial analogy that finding good people is like cracking pressurized coal to find the diamond in the rough, but I learned that that’s not how diamonds are naturally created. Diamonds came before coal existed. Then again, diamonds can be made from the toughest circumstances.
With the new year approaching, we set ourselves up for grandiose expectations. We make New Year’s resolutions. And ladies, I know some of you have dropped a few hundred bucks at least on buying a fancy dress, shoes, matching accessories, and make-up to fulfill our societal expectation of meeting beauty standards (I have been there). We have survived the pricey $100 ticket to get into hypothetically classy parties where separated guys in mid-life crisis offer to buy you drinks that are included in the price of your ticket and you eat dried out hors d’oeuvres to later throw them up. Or you have paid the $20 cover to have some brah-dude buy you watered down, over-priced well drinks that you accidentally spill because some woman in a too short tube skirt and 6-inch stilettos “accidentally bumps” into you, spilling your drink on your satin dress that doesn’t handle stains well. The situation makes you look like you peed your pants at recess in second grade and everyone in your head is pointing and laughing. Then, “Stilettos” runs off with the guy who just bought you a drink.
We have all been there, despondent and alone in a world surrounded by people we hopelessly try to connect with.
Better yet, let’s just bury ourselves in our favorite hoodies and say, “Fuck it, dude, let’s go bowling,” or watch Netflix, or whatever it is we want to do. The quest for happiness is a harrowing journey sometimes. We bury ourselves in staring at computer screens at work, making lunches for our kids, cutting the crusts of the bread just right, and paying bills, that we forget what happiness is. We think, “if I just had this one thing,” whether it’s a vacation, an engagement ring, or a dream job, we would be happy for life.
There is no happily ever after. Sometimes, there isn’t even a happy for now.
But there’s a way we could fix that. I may not be an expert on happiness, but after all of the mistakes I have made, I know what not to do.
1. Stop looking for outside validation
I have learned quickly that at work and in other aspects of my life, that no one is going to tell you are doing a good job. Most of the time people aren’t going to say anything, unless you are doing something wrong. Take it as a compliment. If people aren’t telling you anything, you’re probably okay. And if you’re looking for attention from people on social media, sit back and watch what people like if you’re into that sort of thing. If you don’t look like you are a mystical fairy waif who doesn’t need to wear a bra, has a triangular tattoo in the shape of a fox, and wears clothing people left behind at Coachella, don’t bother. Although I think these things are ironically cool, I realize that it’s just a representation of someone I am not. If you think that men and transgender don’t go through body image issues, you are also sadly mistaken. We all occasionally look to be our best even if we tell ourselves we don’t care. Even “mystical fairies” have problems. Don’t judge and accept what you are given. Make the best of it. Lastly, stop looking for relationships to validate your existence. Having a significant other (SO) might be nice, but that person shouldn’t be your reason for living. If you don’t have a SO, stop looking for one. They aren’t going to make all of your problems go away. It’s great to get positive attention, but if you think of it as not worrying if the person cares about you, but worry more about if you care about them. What happens the day after and the day after that?
2. “Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do”-John C. Maxwell
If you don’t like your life situation, whatever it is, get your shit together. Get it together, and put it in a backpack…(my favorite Rick and Morty rant). Stop whining and taking things so seriously. We all fall prey to being sad or angry when our needs aren’t met, but look at everyone else. There are people who have things worse and might need your help. You don’t have to save the world, but you give a little cheer or assistance in little ways. I think being a substitute teacher is like clawing nails on a chalkboard of life. Kids can be obnoxious, they don’t listen to you, act as if you are garbage at times, and try to make you feel like shit (it occasionally happens), but when you are persistent in being the person you are without cracking, it eventually dissipates. You even get a few of them to crack themselves and they stop acting like assholes for a little while, maybe even inspire them to spread their own kindness. I think this philosophy works not only in my job, but in life in general. Treat people with an open mind, but be firm with your boundaries. If you are afraid you are going to be a doormat, you may as well be a quirky inviting welcome mat that you can pull out from under people when they deserve it the most or when you need your space.
On a continuation of pursuing dreams, give up the stupid “New Year’s Resolution” bullshit. If you want to make goals, don’t tell anyone. The more you talk about it, you will feel like it’s already been accomplished, and you’ll never do it. And if you are going to tell someone, tell someone who is going to join you on your goal journey. Goals are best accomplished when you have others who are working with you, not against you. Some people feel worse when they are reminded of what others set out to do or accomplish. They are not your friends. Lastly, if you are making goals, make sure you can do them on a regular basis. Don’t set a goal to go to the gym everyday if you know your schedule is unpredictable. Make goals that you know you can achieve and want to. This month is when I decided I needed to move on, so I sent out hundreds of job applications across the country, which I plan on continuing. Let’s see what happens.
3. Realize when things don’t make you happy.
What stops us from being truly happy is not recognizing what makes us unhappy. This is often difficult, especially when concerning relationships with others. We sometimes get ourselves involved in relationships that are like slot machines. They dispense happy moments at random unexpected times that keep us wanting more. Rewards that are random and unexpected are often the most rewarding to our brains. We become addicted to people or things who act like assholes, because we had scraps of good times. Maybe those good times were the best times we had, but it’s all an illusion when we realize the relationship is based on wanting something more. You can apply the same principle to vices. You might think drinking alcohol and smoking pot excessively on a regular basis makes you happy, but you are probably masking sadness, or something else much worse. Think about my discussion above about New Year’s Eve partying rituals. We set an expectation that everything is going to be fun, and a lot of times it just goes to hell or nowhere at all.
Happiness can also be considered a place, which is literal and figurative. We can have all of the things we hoped for, but it snows 8 months out of the year and we hate being outside in the cold. Sometimes we could ignore our surroundings, but when the highest temperature is 20 degrees three months straight, it gets a little unnerving. Or even if you enjoy your surroundings, but you are not getting fulfillment from your place in life, your job, friends, family, or purpose. Happiness is not necessarily in what you get, but what you do.
4. Do the things that make you truly happy.
We are not doomed to be sad and hopeless. We can take control over our happiness to some extent. Think about the last time you were truly and consistently happy. Were there times that you spent with your friends, not worrying about having a good time, not worried about posting it on social media? Were there times that you accomplished goals you sought to accomplish? Were there times you felt truly relaxed and not worried about what the world thought of your happiness? Were there times you made someone else happy without thinking about what you got in return? Were there times you felt happy being in that moment, in that place in the universe where everything seemed right? Those are truly happy moments. Maybe a vacation or money can provide those things, but remember, those are just tools aiding in your journey to happiness. You can spend the New Year’s chillin with friends at a small house party with take-out pizza, karaoke, and corny paper crowns. Or you could spend time with your family talking about the good times and planning an exciting future? Or just be happy being by yourself, not caring about what everyone else is doing? I’m not saying partying will only lead to disappointment or that a $200 sexy dress you bought on sale won’t make you feel better, but be in the moment. And if you don’t like it, take that shit and put it in a backpack.
Best wishes to you and yours. Be safe. Happy 2018!
That’s when Zack Hammond decided he needed to be a comedian. He experienced comedian Christopher Titus’s “Norman Rockwell Is Bleeding”—a comedy appearance treating his dysfunctional family, and Zack decided comedy could be a way for him to better cope with the dysfunctions in his own life.
A Comedian Is Born
Zack began attending all of the open mic nights he could. When he turned twenty-one, he signed up to perform at Wise Crackers (when it used to be at the Clarion in Scranton), and he shares that “it sucked.” The host announcing it was his first night to perform probably didn’t help. The guy that heckled him for being an English major probably didn’t either. Still, Zack made it through the tough Pennsylvania crowd, figuring he had to keep at it in order to be better.
Zack’s got a list of comedians who’ve influenced him to keep trying ranging from George Carlin to Richard Pryor to Patton Oswalt and Doug Stanhope, who Zack opened for in Scranton earlier this year. There are writers he encountered in his English major days that move him, too—Hemingway, Joyce, Milton, and the more contemporary David Foster Wallace, who Zack really seems to admire. He likes that the author is “clever and smart” and adds that the asides in his writing translate to comedy easily. With society heading down a sad path of stupidity, Zack is grateful for his English background that got him not only reading, but writing, too. In the recent Creative Writing Conference hosted by King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Zack shared with students that his career in writing isn’t just about jokes and being funny, but that the literary techniques of foreshadowing, plot and structure are crucial to not just setting up a good joke, but being able to carry them through a successful comedic act as a vehicle as well. You’ve got to have these to keep audiences interested, and more importantly, laughing. “Comedy has limits, unless it’s good,” he shares. Structure and mechanics of writing are clearly what helps make the comedy last.
I asked Zack about inspiration for new material. He says there isn’t anything like that. He just takes things he notices (that often annoy him) and he tries to comment on them in a way that will be funny. He adds some advice from Carlin—the idea that you have to divorce yourself from society. Zack echoes the truth in this concept. Good comedians need to put anything and everything on the table as potential material—even themselves. He writing isn’t only about the mechanics of it, but working on the analysis of material, too, including self-awareness.
Zack’s tried other creative writing with screenwriting, skits and sketches, but isn’t a big fan of writing these out, as visualizations of an idea are sometimes easier to just explain. He isn’t interested in writing comedy for others to perform either as it can be frustrating for his vision to take the form he wants through the actions of others who might interpret things in unintended ways or just disregard his direction all together. Plus, long-form comedic writing is a big commitment, and shorter forms are more Zack’s style. He believes it’s more exciting when it’s you performing and you get to see firsthand how successful the comedy has been received.
But writing comedy is challenging, to be sure. Zack shares that it’s not like performing music where you can hear it when you practice it to make adjustments or corrections. “With comedy, you don’t know it’s funny until someone laughs at it,” he confides. Then, editing can take place to see if a bit is too wordy or if there’s a better way to get an idea across. He adds, “You have no idea how much gas [a bit] has until you test it out.” You have to learn how to proofread onstage to fix it offstage for the next show.
Some Sage Advice
I questioned Zack about what advice he had for aspiring comedians who want to get on stage. He said simply, “Don’t.” I’m fairly sure he was joking, But it leads to the advice he has to give. One, be motivated—nose to the grindstone, full-out hard work will be what gets you the big payoff. Two, “Be yourself 100%.” You can’t rely only on imitation or emulation and feeding off of others. You must “bear your soul” and “suffer and such for a very long time” until –hopefully—things click into place. He adds that becoming a comedian is a “very long road of highs and very depressing lows. You question yourself all the time and have moments of doubt where you wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea. You have to be passionate and crazy to do it.”
You can find Zack Hammond (to follow him around like a groupie) on Facebook ( Zack Hammond: Comedian) or find him at the following upcoming shows, several of which he’s hosting or head lining:
December 22: Stroudsburg, PA @ The Sherman Theater at 8 p.m.
December 28: Binghamton, NY @ Peterson’s Tavern at 8:30 p.m.
December 29: Erie, PA @ The Harlequin Ballroom at 8:30 p.m.
December 30: Hershey, PA @ The Vineyard at Hershey at 8 p.m.
January 12-13: Wilkes-Barre, PA @ Wise Crackers at Mohegan Sun Casino at 9 p.m.
And hunt down his albums online: Sorrow Tree, Appalling and Utilitarian.
The youngsters at the Olde Brick Theatre have quite the holiday spectacular planned this year. Their upcoming performance, A Little Diva Holiday Show: One-Acts for Children & Teens features four one-act plays by local playwrights.
First is “The Shortest Day” by local actress Lorrie Loughney. She shares that her play helps audience members (and the kids especially) to learn about the Christmas traditions we have today. Shannon O’Malley, one of the young performers, says the best part of being in this Celtic Christmas fairytale is working with new people and getting to see the play come together. This echoes the one-act’s director, Sandra Connolly, who claims the best part of this performance experience has been helping the young actors better understand how theatre works and letting the kids learn how to express themselves in character.
Connolly also directs “The Kid Who Hates Christmas” by Margo and Marnie Azzarelli. Marnie Azzarelli hopes that audiences recognize it is important to spend time with family at Christmas while you still have them with you. This mother-daughter writing team is passionate about history and family and their play has both, according to Marnie. Margo hopes people will come to the youth performance not only to support local arts, but for the opportunity to support our future actors and actresses, too. She says, “There may be a future Meryl Streep in the cast”—perhaps it’s one of the young actresses in their play.
Ted LoRusso’s “The Threes of Throop” is also running in this performance set. Mia Scotti, an actress in this Christmas elegy, feels LoRusso’s one-act has great detail and that it’s fun to play a real-life character, as the play is based on a portion of the childhood of Lou Bisignani of Actor’s Circle fame. LoRusso and director, Laura M. Heffron, both feel that the kids are rising to the occasion and challenging themselves and their imaginations. Heffron adds that everyone is wearing many hats to make this production happen, too, and that the collaboration taking place throughout all aspects of the performance is phenomenal, and the youth are embracing it.
Heffron is also directing “Mother’s Little Elfer” by Wendy Wescott. The large cast of this play had a great deal to share about it, most agreeing that they thought it was funny, but people could learn a lesson from it as well. It’s relatable, they say, too, because nearly everyone has an Elf on the Shelf to keep them in line.