Rock and Roll Dreams¹

adventures of the everyday

My son has always been into music.  I sang to him in utero endlessly; traditional lullabies, TV theme songs, Night Vale weather reports, musical theatre standards.  He came out with an innate sense of rhythm (unlike his father or I) and an eclectic musical taste.

In the last year or two, he has become obsessed with “writing” his own songs, and has recently formed his own band – Fire on the Loose – whose members include, at any given time, himself and any adult he can rope into it (his Grandpapa seems to be a favorite).

I’ve got no musical inclination – I love music, but I have no innate talent, and don’t have the ability to juggle the pursuit in tandem with my art, writing, and language learning – but I try to encourage Bear as much as I can.  He has cymbals, maracas, triangles, recorders, tambourines, and a keyboard, and after an afternoon of playing an “writing” songs, he decided to make a poster for his band:
67569551_10156497754724352_1316584901322997760_oWritten independently by Bear, including spelling.  Honestly, I was impressed.

So of course, I shared my enthusiasm with Facebook, because in some ways, I am very much a Millennial Mom.  While most friends offered encouragement or amusement, my cousin decided to stir up repressed memories.

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We eventually coaxed from the depths of our collective consciousness that someone’s name was Sour Apple Spice, at which point I think we all had a painful, full-body shudder and decided to leave well enough alone.  Literally none of us could so much as pluck out a tune, and we had a band??  Come on.

But I came back to the conversation later, re-read it, and realized how much and how painfully I missed that time in my life.

Because we weren’t completely oblivious — we knew none of us could actually play music.  But what we could do was come up with a band name, write song lyrics, put together costumes and personas, create posters and back stories — and that?  That is creating a narrative.

That is storytelling.

I started thinking about all the other geeky shit that we got up to during those summers when we were all in junior high and high school, and my cousin Nikki all but lived at our house: the videos we made on my uncle’s old camcorder, staging talk shows and performing skits to send to penpals; piecing together costumes from old clothes, thrift store finds, and vintage costume jewelry to stage photo shoots; keeping notebooks full of handwritten, free-form role playing games, some spilling over online and encompassing a dozen people, some just between the three of us; writing elaborate self-insert fanfics and illustrating them for each other in Painter.

Those summer nights, we were costume designers, choreographers, writers, artists, photographers, models.

It was the silliest shit in the world, but it was freeing, and fun, and undoubtedly an exercise in unbridled creativity.  It was something that, in a lot of ways, I would spend the rest of my life (thus far) chasing and never quite finding again.

I miss those nights.  I miss that time with my sister and my cousin, huddled sleeplessly in front of the TV, re-watching out latest raw footage, or passing our roleplay notebooks back and forth.  Those are nights I’m never going to get back.

But I see my son scribbling out his band poster, which is now hanging on his wall, and I am so, so happy that he still has so many of those nights to look forward to.


¹Literally apropos of nothing, but I was struggling to title this entry, finally stumbling on “Rock and Roll Dreams,” and then was fucking bowled over with a powerful wave of nostalgia for this song:

Happy Fall (I’m Back)

Happy Fall!.png

I know, I  know; it’s not, like, technically Fall yet.  I’ve been sitting on this post literally since September 3rd, the day my son started school, which felt more than ever like the irrevocable end of summer, but then my schedule went haywire, my brain short-circuited, and I more or less shut down.

Which sounds hella dramatic.  It wasn’t. I’ve just been utterly exhausted and overwhelmed, which meant something had to fall by the wayside, and my creative endeavors — basically everything not absolutely essential for the functioning of my household and family — came to a grinding halt.

At this point, it is, actually, almost Fall — the leaves are changing, the morning air has a chill to it, and the calendar is nearly in agreement with me on this point.  So why not wait?

Because I am ready now, and waiting longer is just going to delay the momentum.  

I have a schedule at work again — more over, I have the schedule I had anticipated going into this year (with one tweak which, truth be told, I’m happy about) — and am told it should be “permanent.”¹ For the first time in weeks, my husband has his normal weekly schedule again, which means he can do the mid-week chores and I can get my house back on track, and my son has settled into — and really loves — school.  I still have a growing backlog of ideas for paintings and creative projects that I have been aching to work on, and am finally feeling emotionally ready to get started on them.

In short, things have taken a turn, and it feels like things are changing.  I thought it was time to celebrate the transition.

For my fellow creative folks, please remember that October means OctPoWriMo or Inktober (though if you’re a glutton for punishment like me, it means both), and November of course brings with it NaNoWriMo, which I am definitely doing, though I’m unsure of what my project will be yet — I guess I should add “Preptober” to next month’s schedule, huh?

I am, as promised, back.  I hope you all have been well, and if not, well, I hope you find your turning point soon, too.


¹Nothing in my line of work is truly permanent.  I’ve been shuffled around from program to program over the last nearly-fifteen years, and while I’m not complaining (I appreciate the experiences), I can certainly speak with authority on the ephemeral nature of my job’s sense of “permanence.”

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.