I Will Be Back

lifeupdateSigh.  I had been doing so well with updates for a while, too.

I hope you’re all well.  I am, even though I’m not totally feeling like it right now.  I feel like I’ve just been barely keeping my head above water when it comes to personal responsibilities and self-care.  I feel like the return to a regular schedule on Monday will help, but holding on until then has been hard.

But I have updates; I’ve been working on a series of watercolor that I hope to show you all soon, and have two series of acrylic paintings that I’m aching to start on, but know I’m not in the right frame of mind to do so just yet (I’ll either be hypercritical or just rush through them for the sake of having completed something, neither of which are things I want to do).  I’ve also got some general life updates and some projects I’m excited about unrelated to painting.

For those of you with kids or who work with kids (or both, like myself), I hope the transition back to school has been smooth.  Bear starts K1 on September 3rd, and I’m already having anxiety dreams about it (I say “already.”  I am genuinely shocked I haven’t been having recurring nightmares since the day we got him registered, honestly).

Life is good, though it’s hard to see it through the fog in my brain right now.  Hopefully that’ll clear soon.  I’m looking forward to returning with something to show you all, with something I’m proud of.

Travel and FOMO

adventures of the everydayMy sibling-in-law — aged 23 — spent the day here on Sunday visting with my son/their nephew for the last time before moving to Sweden for (at minimum) three months.

I’ve got all sorts of feelings about this.

Not in the terms that people are probably thinking; I genuinely like my sib-in-law, but between the age gap, distance, and other factors, we aren’t close.  We get on well when we hang out, but the frequency with which that happens is relatively rare, and when it does happen, it’s really them hanging out with Bear (which, fair; he’s a pretty cool kid).  But missing them while they are on their journey isn’t really an issue; we’d probably see them maybe twice in the intervening time.

It’s more that I’m wracked with a near debilitating case of FOMO.

I don’t even want to go to Sweden.  Like, don’t get me wrong, it’s probably a lovely place, but it’s not on my bucket list, nor do I have any particular connection tot he locale or the culture to fuel my desire to visit it.  It’s the concept of travel in general.  It’s the freedom inherent in travel that I envy.

I didn’t have much in the way of a young adulthood.  Between my mother’s over-protectiveness and need to micro-manage, my own mental illness/anxiety, and the fact that we were barely keeping our head above the water financially, travel was something that was never, ever on the table for me.  The furthest I ever went was to New Hampshire — and ten minute ride over the border — to take advantage of the lack of sales tax.  When I hit college and my dreams of studying abroad were dashed for financial reasons, I fought tooth-and-nail for the few opportunities that arose to do anything akin to travelling.  I made friends with a girl from New York my Senior year, and after crimping and saving and a number of screaming matches with my mother, finally managed to make a couple of trips to Westchester over breaks and long weekends.  That would be the totality of my travel experience until I got married.

In the intervening years since, it’s gotten a little better; I’ve been to Maine and Vermont, Florida multiple times, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Quebec, and Montreal.  But in the intervening years, despite shaking off the shackles of my over-bearing mother, I now have a job, a kid, and a mortgage.  I’ve never quite been able to pull my head above water financially, at least with regards to travel.

I get restless easily.  I, like my husband, thrive on schedules and routines, but I also love deviation from the norm, provided it’s self-directed and desired; I balk at change thrust upon me, but will gladly throw myself into something new should the prospect appeal to me.  Being told that there are Things to Be Done and that those same things are Things I will Never Have the Chance to Do Them in the same breath is heart-breaking.  Knowing that the stories so many of my friends tell of their exploits — be they student exchange trips, AmeriCorp or PeaceCorp service, backpacking trips as college kids, or luxury resort-hopping as adults — are things that are always going to be aspirational for me, without the prospect of fulfillment, kills me.

There’s freedom in travel, but not everyone has the freedom to travel.  My husband works a job where securing time off is difficult, and his time off is limited.  We need to travel someplace child-friendly, or else make sure we can find long-term babysitting for our son, and round-trip domestic flights alone often cost nearly half a month’s income (and that’s just the flight).  It’s not that we can Never, Ever Travel Ever, it’s that at the end of the day, it’s more work.  It’s months and months of saving and sacrificing, planning and prioritizing, and even then, our options are limited by when we can secure time off, how much we can afford to take, and how quickly we think we can recover our losses.

So when I see friends and family — and it’s been happening more and more frequently lately — talk about booking flights and resorts and trips and cruises, with what (to me) is startling frequency, it hurts. Just a little.  And just a little more each time.

I am happy for them; for my sib-in-law, for my friends and family.  I just wish it was something I could be a part of.

“Change on the Rise,” Avi Kaplan

artI’ve spent the last several days getting stuff done around the house.  It’s been productive, and I’m stepping into the week with a clean house and two whole weeks to do with as I please, so I’m happy to have put in the time to get stuff done.  I’ve got some ideas for paintings I’m looking forward to getting started on, I’ve got a couple of books I’m raring to keep reading, and I’m planning on binge watching a couple of select shows on my own (I like watching things with my husband, but I like having a few things that are just “mine,” you know?)

While cleaning, I’ve been watching and listening to YouTube, and after gorging myself on old Pentatonix vids and lamenting the (now years old; still not over it, tbh) loss of Avi, I decided to check up on him.

AHHHHHHH DID NOT DISAPPOINT.  (I have a slight Avi… problem).

Without the light
Oh the darkness comes
Hold through the night
The shadows will run

Fend off the enemy
Sing out the jubilee
With all the fire we can breathe

We’re singing all day and you can’t tame it
High tide or low tide you know
Night time or morning time
We’re going strong
Headed up down the river oh Lord
I feel the reveling
I feel a change on the rise

What good’s a man
Who’s lost his soul
Can’t take a stand
When his flame’s gone cold

Fend off the enemy
Sing out the jubilee
With all the fire we can breathe

We’re singing all day and you can’t tame it
High tide or low tide you know
Night time or morning time
We’re going strong
Headed up down the river oh Lord
I feel the reveling I feel a change on the rise

“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Kina Grannis

artI am ecstatic that I am on break.  I am also overwhelmed by the amount of things I want to do.  Now.  All at once.

Among other possible diagnoses, I had once bounced around the idea that perhaps part of This Thing In My Head was maybe cyclothymia, because while my mood swings and my moods themselves were never as intense as those of my bipolar friends, I definitely cycle through periods of down moods interspersed with manic-like ambition and tendencies (I mean, some of that can also be explained by ADHD, which is why I really want to get an assessment done), but the relevant point is, there are periods of my life when I just… want to do.  I just want to do everything — let’s overhaul the house!  Let’s start a YouTube channel!  Let’s put together a podcast! Let’s take a pole class!  Let’s learn how to paint!  Let’s write a zine!  AND LET’S DO IT ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!

It’s thrilling and exhausting and frustrating and kind of scary.  It’s what I’m moving through right now, with my new mantra of patience, planning, and prioritizing, and just… trying to stay calm and grounded.

Which is all a very, very long-winded way of saying: I  love this song in all it’s iterations; it calms me and makes me happy, and so I have been listening to it a lot lately, in the hopes of quieting my headspace.  Here’s my absolutely favorite version.

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay?
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you?

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
For I can’t help falling in love with you
For I can’t help falling in love with you.

It’s Okay to Not Be “Doing”

lifeupdateI have a hard time, sometimes, accepting that it’s okay for me not to have a traditionally productive day.  Even when there are things that need to be done.

I’m wrapping up a lot of things that have been stressing me out; or, not even stressing me out, but just, I don’t know, taking up mental and emotional resources?  I met up with the old friend I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade, I got a chance to catch up with another friend I hadn’t seen since her engagement in April (and got asked to be maid of honor!), GISH week wrapped up, and I finished my second-to-last week of ESY.  Three more days of work this week, and I have two-and-a-half weeks off.

That’s plenty of time to be productive.  I had a productive two weeks at the start of summer; there is nothing keeping me from doing the same at the tail end.  I even managed to get the worst of the overwhelming housework done this weekend (including cleaning up my art work space and folding about five weeks of laundry), so with a little but of planning and follow-through, my house could be spotless by Friday.

So why do I feel such an intense, aimless restlessness right now?  Why do I feel like I should be on my hands and knees with a scouring pad, or hunched over a pallete mixing paints, or plugging away in front of a screen (oh… I guess I’m kind of doing that, huh)?

It is so hard sometimes to remember that my focus this year is on perseverance and patience, and that — sort of by necessity — means I won’t always be doing.  Sometimes I’ll be planning, or organizing, or prioritizing.

Hell, sometimes I’ll just be resting, because goddamnit, there are some task for which you really, really need to rally all your mental reserves before you embark on them.

I am making lists of the chores and projects I want to complete during my vacation.  I am taking inventory of all my cabinets and making lists of the organizer bins and baskets I need to buy.  I am taking literal notes on the areas in my house that I need to plaster and repaint.  I am pricing out floor tiles and stocking up on cleaning supplies.

I am keeping a journal of art ideas.  I am reading articles about watercolor technique and the best brushes to achieve a particular effects.  I’m sketching thumbnails of hopefully soon-to-be in-the-works projects.

I signed up for a “virtual writer’s retreat” that starts today.  I installed Libby and started listening to a book, because it’s harder for me to resist the call of my phone than I’d like to admit, and I know this will make it easier to ensure I “read” more, which will hopefully help me write more.  I’ve tossed my notebook back in my bag so I have it on me at all times.  I’m pinning flash fiction and poetry prompts to Pinterest.

None of that feels real; none of that feels like “doing,” but it’s all part of the process, and when your energy runs low, doing literally any of those things is so, so much better than stalling out and wallowing in procrastinatory self-loathing.  It is so, so hard for me to believe this, even the hundredth time through.  Even after the waiting and planning and gathering of the wits have resulted in the work and efforts I remain the most proud of.

I am not doing nothing.  I am laying the foundations.

Hopefully tomorrow comes with renewed energy, and a chance to start building upon it.

Friyay!

friyay positivityThis week has been wild.  I’ve been stressing about GISH, and work, and my birthday, and seeing an old friend (which was awesome!  But there’s always the worry, especially when it’s been nearly a decade, that things will be awkward when you finally get together again.  It’s always a massive relief when that concern turns out to be moot), and ughhh, one more week and I have my two-and-half-week vacation!  I’m thrilled, looking forward to having a few days to myself, to doing more painting, to hopefully organizing my basement and prepping Bear for school, and for things like seeing friends, day trips, the beach, and FanExpo Boston.

But before we get too ahead of ourselves, it’s finally Friday.  Here’s what’s been making me smile this week.

To Try

I don’t think it was on this iteration of the blog — and if it wasn’t, this is a topic I will have to revisit at some point — but I wasted a lot of time lamenting/worrying that my art wasn’t “real art.”  Luckily, I woke the fuck up from that nightmare and realized that art is varied and eclectic and subjective, and God damnit, was allowed to be fun.  I mean, I love that there are artists out there dealing with social and political issues, but amidst all the heaviness and existentialism, we need to make a little room for the light and the whimsical, as well.  I am in love with the idea of pom-pom art, I am a hugely tactile person, and there is something very satisfying about both the visual texture of this and the fact that it’s something that I can touch.  Also, I love the idea of this for decor for my son’s room.  Now I just need to think about what I would make.

To Warm the Heart

Look, I’m not gonna over-sell it; it’s literally just ~30 seconds of piglets running in circles around a momma pig.  But it makes me smile, dammit.  It so friggin cute.

To Share with the Kid

My son lately has become obsessed with jokes and pranks and, just, humor in general, so I was thrilled when this Scary Mommy post — 140+ Hilarious Jokes for Kids — showed up on my timeline.

To Watch

Ok, so it’s a week away, but I kept forgetting to mention it, so here we are; I fucking loved Rocko’s Modern Life growing up, and after two years of waiting, I am thrilled that the movie is debuting on Netflix August 9th.  Can. Not. Wait.

That’s it from me for this week.  What’s gotten you through?

37

adventures of the everyday37 is not a “big” birthday.

It’s weird; there is a very specific point in our lives (at least in Western/American society) where we seem to be having milestone birthdays almost constantly: 10 heralds in double-digits; 13 is bat/bar mitzvahs and the start of the teenage years; Sweet 16 and being able to drive/at the age of consent; 18 and being a legal adult; 21 and being legal, full-stop.

Then nothing until 30 — you go over a decade having these big, celebratory birthdays one after the other, and then nine years of nothing before you hit a milestone that we are a society (And women especially) have been conditioned to dread.  It’s all kinds of bullshit, folks.  And then after that, we celebrate the decades.  40, 50, 60.  Ten years waiting to celebrate, what, surviving the preceding ten years?  How sad.  For real.  Just, how fucking sad.

Like, I get that the traditional societal milestones kind of taper off after 21; once you are a legal adult, what’s there to celebrate about getting older?

Like… lots, actually.  I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with my life than I have been in my 30s.  Some of that, granted, comes from the fact that I am, in many ways, quite privileged, and have financial, familial, and career stability, and I know that’s not true for a lot of people, through no personal failings of theirs.

But by the same token, most of the satisfaction I felt during the last decade or so has been because of choices I’ve made and efforts I’ve put in for personal victories and milestones, not because of pre-ordained rights of passage.  I’m happier because I’ve taken some risk, taken up new hobbies, learned new things, and, honestly, stopped putting so much stock in the thing society says I should be doing.

So, I think we should come up with, not new milestones necessarily, but new ways of celebrating our years after 30, each year with a new theme or new ritual.

Like, ok: I’ve noticed that there has been a trend in recent years where people love to write articles and listicles about what women over 30 should “never” wear.  Oh, fuck those articles hardcore.  Our 31st birthdays should be about celebrating and refining our personal styles; we should have swap meet parties, where all our friends bring over clothing and we swap and share, and/or go thrift store hopping, finding unique pieces that flatter and define our own personal styles, build a “Fuck You, I Wear What I Want” wardrobe, and have an epic photo-shoot.  That’s it, that’s 31.  We celebrate saying eff-off to people telling us how to look and how to dress, and embrace our own unique styles.

32 is when I started to really feel like I’d lost a lot of social connection (part of that was having a kid, which can be very isolating in the earliest years), so 32 maybe is a celebration of your closest friendships and a move to make new ones.  Spend the day reminiscing with your favorite people; break out photo albums (which are probably becoming obsolete relics, but I know I still have a few); have everyone contribute to a memory jar, writing down your favorite in-jokes, moments, milestones, and memories; have lunch at your favorite haunt from your younger years (if it’s possible; I know mine was Borders, and that’s a thing of the past now, sadly); and cap the night off by heading out to a meet-up for a mutual interest, where you can all make connections and hopefully forge some new friendships, as well.

I mean, it would take me a while to come up with one for every year, but how nice would that be, to have a reason to really look forward to birthdays again?  To feel like you’re still growing and that each year means something new, means new growth, instead of just another year older?

I’m not sure what 37 is yet.  I’ve got a few hours left to figure it out and define it, but I turn 37 tomorrow, and I’ll be spending time with a childhood friend who I haven’t seen in nine years, and visiting a city I adore, so I think I have a good foundation for a good day.

I’ll let you know what’s special about 37 on the flipside (and hey, if anyone else is interested in new rituals for each year of your 30s, I’m having fun and would love to continue this train of thought later), but for now I’m just going to celebrate seeing a beautiful city, an old friend, and another year.