Tis the Season

I’ve been an artist for over half of my life. One could argue I was born this way but it didn’t fully manifest until early adolescence. My modality of preference is oil painting but I’ve also explored painting with acrylics and watercolors, making mosaics, and warping clay sculptures. I’ve painted for fun, to relieve stress, for money, and for the sake of making something. At first, I could go years without dabbling in the arts but gradually it became a monthly, then weekly, then occasionally a daily endeavor. There’s something exhilarating about purchasing blank canvases and new paints or brushes. I even love the peculiar smell of fresh oil paint. Many items in my apartment are permanently stained with various hues, a product of my inability to juggle multiple paintbrushes at a time. Unfortunately over the last year, I developed a random allergy to my hobby and am now forced to wear latex gloves and a mask that filters toxins and any chance of looking sexy while painting.

Last year, I started to feel burned out and took a break from the art of creating. It’s weird to go into my office/studio/child’s bedroom and see my drafting table/easel, the bag of paints, and my rolled up brushes and not feel the urge to make something. It’s as if the desire totally evaporated. Perhaps part of it is because the space feels crowded and not fully functional, and in that way, it’s a reflection of my life at the moment.

I love studios. I love the superfluous natural light that’s often permeating the space, the smudges on the walls, the worn easels, and scattered paintbrushes. Creative spaces that look lived in. I even have catalogs and magazines meant for designing studios. The other day, I was watching a movie called, “The Face of Love” (one of Robin Williams’s last films) and Ed Harris plays an artist. Harris’s character hadn’t painted in years, but in one moment he was inspired to create again. He dug out all his paints, brushes, and materials and set up this eccentric studio. It was messy and chaotic and much like where he was in his life. As artists, our creative spaces tend to reflect our internal processes. Some are more organized and structured, others are a whirlwind of spontaneity. Some are active, others are dormant. It’s a seasonal exhibit of our life journey.

Watching this film, I felt a resurgence and desire to create again. But I’m not sure what to make or when and I know it will reveal itself in time. Until then, I’m taking this season moment by moment and experimenting with color when I feel the inclination to do so.

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Somewhere Here and In Between

I’ve been warring with myself for what feels like forever, or at least since 2002, when I changed my major from Pre-Med to Psychology…and then changed it another five times before graduating. I went from knowing the answer to the dreaded question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” to wandering aimlessly in the halls of several universities and graduate programs looking for the meaning of life. I envy all you people who have your shit together and know what job you want and you actually follow through. Meanwhile, I’m over here drinking endless cups of coffee and losing myself. I’m the kind of person who needs to have her ducks in a row, but in my world, every third duck is typically a fucking chicken.

Lately, I’ve been trying to accept the transition stage, the place of “almost”…the waiting room. The place that reminds me that I’m thirty years old and still in school, pursuing this ambiguous, fleeting dream that I can’t quite decipher. It’s difficult to be a dreamer and unable to immediately fulfill growing ambition. I like to implement as much as I like to plan, sometimes even more so. For me, the happiness comes in watching the goal come to fruition. I greatly anticipate that moment when I can stand back and admire the final product; but in my desire for a hasty destination, I neglect to appreciate the journey.

I have substantial issues with control…if you couldn’t tell. The hardest part of accepting this (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) place I’m in is letting go of where I am and who I think I should be. Letting go isn’t a single decision I make now and then never have to do it again. I do it daily, hell…some days, I do it hourly because I want to be more, do more, and see more than what’s before me and the frustration is mounting. Meanwhile, I’m missing opportunities to experience joy and dismissing the positive because the present situation pales in comparison to these futuristic notions swimming in my psyche. But the struggle is futile at times because who knows where I’ll be tomorrow or the next day. In theory, I could wake up on Wednesday and decide to give no fucks about finishing graduate school, but I doubt it. I’m too invested in where I’ll be after I receive the certificate of program completion.

In choosing to let go, I have to actually let go…I can’t just say I’m moving forward and then keep turning my head back to see what’s chasing me. It only serves to slow me and make me less effective. Negative energies are nooses around my neck, fetters clinging to my ankles, begging to weigh me down. When I think negatively about my circumstances–like being a thirty year old graduate student and working numerous part-time jobs to get shit done–I lose the potential of cultivating joy in the midst of struggle. Like the fact that I’ll have gained knowledge I wouldn’t have otherwise acquired once I finally GRADUATE…and that working part-time allows me to be a better parent for my little blonde lunatic. I’m not stuck…I’m just in the waiting room. And it’s okay to not understand the purpose for the transitions in my life. It’s absolutely alright to feel the myriad of feelings I have while I’m somewhere here and in between.

Side note: I haven’t listened to this band in over a decade, but the lyrics of this song appeared magically in my brain (why my brain chose this song and not some rager by Nine Inch Nails, I’ll never understand) and I thought it was appropriate.

Somewhere In Between by Lifehouse (No judging for Lifehouse, it’s a good song, damn it.)

I can’t be losing sleep over this, no, I can’t
And now I cannot stop pacing
Give me a few hours, I’ll have this all sorted out
If my mind would just stop racing

‘Cause I cannot stand still
I can’t be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening

This is over my head but underneath my feet
‘Cause by tomorrow morning I’ll have this thing beat
And everything will be back to the way that it was
I wish that it was just that easy

‘Cause I’m waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
And I’m somewhere in between

What is real and just a dream…
What is real and just a dream…
What is real and just a dream…

Would you catch me if I fall out of what I fell in
Don’t be surprised if I collapse down at your feet again
I don’t want to run away from this
I know that I just don’t need this

‘Cause I cannot stand still
I can’t be this unsturdy
This cannot be happening

‘Cause I’m waiting for tonight
Then waiting for tomorrow
And I’m somewhere in between

Passive Aggressive

I hate being ignored. Correction…I hate when people can spare a few minutes to ‘like’ a photo or post on Facebook or Instagram but can’t spare the same amount of time to reply to a text message or phone call. I also don’t appreciate when it takes days or weeks for people to reply. It takes what…thirty seconds to reply to a message (unless you’re me and have two uncooperative thumbs on touch screens)? How hard it is to communicate with someone in that amount of time? You could do that while taking a shit or brushing your teeth. But no…some people like to just fall off the grid. I get it. I like to crawl away in my room and disappear for an afternoon, but if I receive messages or inquiries from people, I reply. Call it common courtesy.

I’ve been dealing with shitty communicators for about a year and I don’t understand the behavior. Especially when they weren’t shitty communicators before. Did life just get that fucking busy? I’m more than willing to challenge the busy status quo. Marriage, work (involving multiple clients and commuting over 200 miles a week), grad school, parenting, and home management all occupy my time. But I still keep appointments and find a way to recharge my introvert battery. Perhaps I’m just better at time management or I’m being judgmental of others. Both are likely true, but honestly, I don’t care.

I’ve never been a confrontational person. I don’t like voicing my opinion (face to face) only to look like a petulant child who didn’t get their way. But part of growing up is learning to communicate effectively. Being able to tell a person who hurt you that they made a mistake in a nice, compassionate way. This is where I’m a shitty communicator. I don’t want to hurt people even though I’ve been hurt. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ve just had a shit storm hit their house and they can’t possibly spare thirty seconds to talk to me. Am I unreasonable in my frustration? Am I being selfish for having expectations and needs? Should I just let it go? Or do I speak up?

I found out a week ago that my therapist moved across the country and didn’t tell me. Not one fucking word to notify me that I’d never get to see her again…unless I feel like moving to another state. This isn’t the root of my irritation, but it definitely tipped me over the edge when trying to be patient with people who fail to give me important information. I’m hurt. I valued her tremendously and it makes me feel like I didn’t matter to her. And there are other people in my life who I love, who I’ve been there for, who I need…and who are just not up to par with me anymore. And it makes me sad. Are we just outgrowing each other and it’s manifesting in the increasing silence between us?

I don’t really know how to proceed, how to word myself adequately, so I’m being passive aggressive and writing about it. Maybe they’ll read it and realize I’m talking to them. But if they can’t bother with a thirty second text message reply, I doubt they’ll spare the time to read my rant. I’ve got to get better at being honest about how I feel.

I’m hurt. You hurt me. You ignored me. I don’t like it. Please stop.