It’s been a busy few weeks. Having a kitten around definitely adds an element of fun chaos to everything.
My parents took Gracie to Disney World last week, and Tom and I drove up on two different days to spend some time with them at the parks. It was supposed to be a big family vacation, but after several delays (illness, Delilah’s passing, etc.) Tom and I canceled our end of things and my parents happily took Gracie. We managed to make day trips up there on Friday (to go to Epcot) and Tuesday (Magic Kingdom).
Day trips to Disney are sort of a beast- it’s a four hour car ride each way, and while the morning trip isn’t so bad, coming home at night is a little rough. But we listen to audiobooks and comedy on the trip, and we don’t stop often (Tom and I are both “let’s just get there!”) so it goes by quickly. And it’s always really great to pull into our driveway and take a shower in our bathrooms and go to sleep in our bed on that day, so in the end the trip is worth it. I’m not a big fan of overnighting it in hotels unless I’m on vacation (hotel bathrooms really SQUICK me out) so I’d rather make the drive home than crash in a hotel for one night. I like a long, hot shower after a day at Disney. And nothing is better than doing that in my shower.
Anyway, all that driving and park-going is exhausting. But I’m glad Gracie and my parents got a wonderful vacation together, I’m very glad we got to spend time with them at Disney, and I’m also very glad it’s behind us because for some reason I have been associating this trip with the season of spring, and I’m definitely ready to move on to the next season of my life. It hasn’t been a fun few months. Now I kinda feel like my time is my own again.
Life slows down a lot in summer. A majority of the people on this little island where I live go back north. The weather is crummy (rainy and incredibly hot and humid all the time) so it’s almost as if its winter down here- a lot of quiet, dark afternoons inside. But for some reason I’m okay with going into it right now. I’m really wanting to spend some time in restoration mode, if that makes any sense.
I feel really bone-tired. I usually pride myself that I’m pro-active enough with my Spina Bifida that I can sort of prevent a lot of muscle and joint pain, but these past few months my neck and shoulders and spine ache almost constantly. I’m almost 100% certain it’s stress. Sometimes it feels like holding my head up is a lot of work. This is all new for me, so I want to figure out what’s going on and head it off at the pass.
I really think I just need just a few months to unwind, catch my breath, figure out what’s next. I’m kind of caught between this desire to make a “plan” of sorts and set a personal goal for summer, and to just take it day by day. Of course, the “day by day” thing seems to be the most reasonable, but I know from past experience that I’m *much* happier when I’m working on a project, moving towards a goal.
The problem is that once I reach that goal, I start feeling lost and aimless again. So I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t just figure out how to make down time work for me, how to just do with the flow. Oh… I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t really matter. All I know is that I want to experience some happiness and peace this summer, to relax, maybe even have fun.
So far all I really know is that I want to see a bunch of summer movies, read some good books, make some art (but not in a “I really should be making art” mindset, but in a “I really WANT to make some art” mindset, which I think will be a monumental challenge in itself!), catch up on sleep, spend time with my family, crochet, garden, write (both blog stuff and fiction), etc. Lots of interesting things to do, but no anxiety to do them. I don’t even know if that’s possible for me- I’m kind of a high anxiety person. In college I was definitely the person who waited until a few days before a paper was due to start it, but I did so much better in those last few seconds with all that adrenaline coursing through me. I realize now that when you wait until the last minute, you can’t be a perfectionist or agonize over any of the details, you just have to make it happen and hope for the best. The problem is, that doesn’t translate well into everyday life.
I’m still strongly considering going back to school for an MFA. I found the program I’d like to attend, and talked a bit with the admissions people, t’s just a matter of putting together a portfolio and getting my application in (oh… and figuring out how to fund it.) I waver between going back to school “officially”, which I have kind of had the urge to do since I finished school in 1999 (I feel like my time in school is not yet complete) and just taking a bunch of great online art courses (there are several I have my eye on, including the Flora Bowley course) and dedicating myself to those. The problem is that for some reason, whenever I sign up for an online course, I tend to flake on it. It just seems like there’s no rush to do it, and it’s better if I wait until I “have more time”, and of course, I never “have more time” so I never sit down and commit myself to it. Official school will NOT be like that. I will be on a deadline, and working on an academic schedule that someone else sets. And I will be held accountable. For some reason, I am not accountable with myself when it comes to art. I still always feel like it’s a great indulgence, in a way. And so it often gets shifted to the “do it when you get everything else done” position in my schedule.
I read this article several years ago and it really made me consider setting a schedule/making a contract with myself regarding art. Especially:
Writing can be a frightening, distressing business, and whatever kind of structure or buffer is available can help a lot. For almost 17 years now, I’ve been faithful to a two-hours-a-day routine, every morning, five or six days a week. I get up, sit down, check e-mail briefly, turn off my e-mail and Internet, look at the time on the computer, write the two-hour marker on a little pad of paper on my desk, and begin. … The rigid time structure, is freeing, and for me, the more I can externalize the ritual, the easier it is to submit to it. It’s all a declaration against the regular dread I used to feel all the time when I wasn’t writing. Once the structure was formalized, the dread diminished dramatically.
The integrity of the system itself is actually more important to me than the daily content, because content will return, and it mostly needs a reliable container in which to put itself. Our preoccupations do not go away, much as we might like them to. – Aimee Bender
Maybe I will try that this summer. Just starting small. One hour a day, maybe even half an hour. Specific days off.
Right now I feel like I’m interested in organizing, preparation. I’m interested in organizing my stuff, my ideas, my life. I’m interested in preparing surfaces and all my supplies. A lot of gesso-ing and making sketchbook and journals and color swatches. A lot of purging stuff, too. I do understand why this appeals to me so much right now- it’s a way I can enforce order into my life since I have spent a majority of the last few weeks feeling like things were unraveling.
I’ll be honest- I’m still reeling from Delilah’s passing. I guess that sounds dramatic, but it is what it is, and I’m just not going to tamp it down because it’s been a month and I should just get over it. I’m better than I was, and that matters. I won’t be at peace with it for a while, and that’s fine.
It’s just that a lot of time time I walk around feeling like the sound of Velcro tearing apart and I’d like to work on that aspect of things. It’s exhausting feeling so shaken and vulnerable all the time. I’m still in the space where I don’t want to make any decisions, and I can’t stand any fussiness. What I mean by that is I can’t stand any drawn-out deliberations on simple things, like what to have for dinner, or what time we should go to the movies, or what ride we should go on next at Disney. For some reason, any delay or discussion on those types of decisions make me very flustered.
That’s probably why I’m resistant to art and creativity- as I have said before, it feels like a lot of creativity is decision making, and I’m just NOT into that at the moment. I have to try and remind myself that I CAN create without having to make decisions, it’s just a matter of letting go and letting it flow as it will. Once I start doing that, it’s so much fun but it always seems like I can’t just sit down with that as my intention. I mean, I have so much emotional baggage with creativity as it is, to just sit down and make art and not have the intention of making useful or meaningful seems like a sin. <— I’m not saying any of this is remotely true, it’s just this feeling I get.
I wonder if this comes from elementary school and art being the “fun” class we got to have for one hour per week? You know what I mean? I guess these days a lot of schools (especially alternative ones) art is as much as part of the curriculum as math or science but way back in the 1980′s, art was like recess, just not every day. It was fun, it wasn’t “real life”.
I just realized something as I’m writing this: GRACIE very much wants to be an artist when she grows up and I encourage her fully. We talk about it every day. But even though my mouth is telling her that she can BE an artist and she SHOULD be an artist (if that’s what her passion is) and I believe it whole-heartedly, I don’t model my behavior that way. She hears me say she should go for it, and then she watches me tend to laundry and the dishwasher before I’ll even consider sitting down and making something. I just realized this. Maybe if I can’t do it for myself, I can do it to encourage her. Maybe that will be enough for me to let go of the resistance.
BUT, I also wonder if I just make it official that I am taking time off from it, maybe I’ll just find my way back. That always happens for me. It’s so weird that creativity/art is my passion and I think about it constantly and read about it constantly and crave it constantly but then have a hard time making it happen when it comes down to actually doing it.
I think the problem is I overthink it. This post is evidence. I just need to let it happen as it will and go along for the ride. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think my “project” for the summer will be participating in my creativity rather than trying to micro-manage it. How that will go, I have no idea. But hey, at least I have the *idea* out there now.
Okay, off to have a late lunch and get out of my studio for a bit. It’s very very dark in here in the afternoons. I’m thinking about getting some sort of little folding table for the sunroom (which is super bright in the afternoon and evening) and bringing some of my supplies out there. Maybe keep it simple and see what happens…
<3 Thank you, as always, for reading all my blathering!leave a comment...