Monday, December 6, 2010

Sleep? Where are you tonight?

     I wish I was a better storyteller.  I'm sure that I must have some amusing stories to share with people, I have stories that I find amusing.  However, when sharing entertaining stories with others I always seem to fall flat.

     I can write stories.  Or perhaps, I should say, I can start writing stories.  Fiction, that is.  I'm not too good at finishing them.  Somehow I always get stuck, not knowing how to get from point A (which is an awesome premise) to point B (which is a great ending).  Everything I can come up with for the middle is crap.

     But I digress.  What I was referring to is my inability to tell a good story about an event that I witnessed, participated in or heard about.  I can't even properly convey someone else's awesome story.

     I had hoped that this blog would be entertaining in some way, although all I really wanted was a place to get some of the crap out of my head, it was a hope that it would be enjoyable.  I will endeavor to make it more enjoyable in the future (note - expect failure at first).

     Maybe I'll start putting sections of fiction I have written on here.  Not tonight, obviously, as the title of this post should indicate my current state of mind, but soon.  Don't expect the fiction to be particularly amusing, as I'm not really funny, and tend toward dark melodrama in my writing, but I hope you'll be entertained at least.  Maybe it'll even push me toward completing a story.  Or maybe I'll create something new, and use this as a testing ground for my attempts to learn to write humor.

     I'd like to learn to write humor.  I even tried it a couple of times, but vampires, ghosties and corpses kept trying to fall out of the shadows.  My imagination is a creepy place.

     So, yes.  In the future expect creepy segments of short stories, and lame attempts at funny stories regarding my rather boring life.  We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Work Like You Don't Need the Money

     So I think I've mentioned before that I'm a geek.  As part of that, I play D&D with a group of close friends on a fairly regular basis.  The schedule is twice a month barring catastrophe that is all too common for us.  We're scheduled to play this Saturday, and I realized today that I have not prepared.

     Without going into all the geeky details, I'll say that a couple of weeks ago I agreed to type up my campaign notes before our next gaming session.  Needless to say, they are not yet completed and are on my screen even now calling out "Finish me, please!"

     I treat things like this as work.  The reason I am behind is that I have had so much work of late.  I've been working on some oil paintings that have to be finished and delivered no later than a week before Christmas.  I've been working on new ceramic projects at the ceramic center I belong to.  I've been working on creating some new jewelry for an upcoming sale next week, as well as some commissioned requests.  And in the evening when I've used up adequate daylight for painting and suchlike, I knit, working on some scarves that I'd like to have completed before the holiday.  I take breaks throughout the day, read some blogs and some webcomics, occasionally even writing a blog or two, I run errands and schedule in social time, I search for and apply for jobs, but on most days I work in some form or another from the time I get up until I go to bed.  And I don't have a "job".

     So I got a phone call from my friend Tracy earlier today while I was furiously typing away, and she mentioned that I'm a workaholic and posed the question, "how can someone without a job be a workaholic?"
I dunno.  I can't deny the accusation, reflecting on it she seems correct.  I work all the time.  And I don't have a "job". When faced with an absence of work, I create more work to do.  I take on extra projects, labeling things in my mind as work to do and then do my best to complete it.  I don't know how not to.  I like to feel productive, like I've accomplished something.  Perhaps the absence of a regular paycheck simply means that I must do even more work in order to feel that I've accomplished something.

     I think that's it, really.  Since I don't have a "job" with a regular work schedule, there is no set time for the work day to end.  So if I haven't scheduled in other activities, my natural state remains "at work."

Huh.  I learned something new today.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Blues

I really hate Christmas.  I enjoyed it as a child, but as an adult it is a time of year I truly dread.  People often ask me why; it seems strange to them that I should have such negative feelings about a holiday most people enjoy.  My dear friend, the Little Pecan, wrote a set of blogs recently that have clarified the foundation of my distaste.  You can read them here, here and here.  Interestingly enough, in them she explains why she celebrates and enjoys Christmas.  Though what she pointed out may be the foundation of my feelings about Christmas, there are also layers on top of that.

As stated, I enjoyed Christmas as a child.  It was fun, spending time with family, picking out presents for other people, receiving presents, eating too many special holiday goodies, getting time off from school.  It was great, all of the enjoyment, none of the responsibility.  Strangely enough, although my family claims to be Christian, the only nod to religion at Christmas was the nativity scene on the mantlepiece.

As I got older and started hearing more about the "keeping Christ in Christmas" thing and whatnot, I was like, sure, okay, Christmas is a time for celebrating family and friends.  That's Christian, isn't it?  Which probably shows that I was never particularly religious.  I'll explain a bit of my relationship with religion:

My family claimed to be Christian, but we never attended church regularly.  I was sent to a strict Christian school for my elementary years because they had a good academic curriculum and my mother wanted me to have a good education.  In school we had chapel service and everything, so I was more than exposed to religious beliefs.  Some people think that children believe wholeheartedly and without question, but I was not one of those children.  I was plagued with doubt at the inconsistencies of Christianity until I got older and realized that I had never truly believed in God. 

However, I respect that other people do.  Celebrating the birth of Christ is something that Christians like and that's cool.  But where is this celebration of Christ?  Hell, where is the celebration of friends and family?  What I see is more of a celebration of the shopping mall driven by the majority of people who claim to be shopping because of their love of Jesus?  What does rampant consumerism have to do with the birth of a baby in a barn a couple thousand years ago?  I don't get it.  However, not celebrating Christmas is treated as both un-Christian and un-American.

Religion aside, society still expects me to participate in the holiday season.  My loved ones, both religious and not, celebrate this time of year.  And I feel pressured to participate as well.  I normally don't cave to peer pressure, but in this case it overwhelms me from all sides.

I cave to the pressure, and go through the stress of frantic gift buying or gift making, frantic visits with everyone I can possibly make time to see, and generally never get a chance to actually relax and enjoy the holidays.  There is nothing fun about it for me.  I don't even really enjoy receiving gifts anymore, because they make me feel immense guilt that I am poor and cannot afford to purchase gifts for everyone.  I make gifts for people, and although I personally love handmade gifts, I am always worried that people will look at the things I make and give to them as "less than".  So it becomes a time of year that points out my lack of financial success as well.

But I do it year after year because I WANT to enjoy it.  I want to purchase gifts for my loved ones to show them how much I appreciate them.  I want to spend time with those loved ones, and celebrate the ending of one year and the beginning of another.  I really do, it's just Christmas never seems to work out that way.  I keep doing the same thing every year expecting a different result.  It exemplifies insanity that I cannot break or change.

And so I hate Christmas.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yesterday -- I did nothing

     At least nothing productive.  And almost nothing at all.  I just bummed around online and read a lot of really bad fanfiction.

     At least, that's what it would have looked like to any observer, and indeed, how I would describe it if anyone asked.

     What I really did was process information.  From art education studies, I know that sometimes students will just stare into space or look like they're just goofing off when they are supposed to be working on a project.  And I know that this is part of the artistic process, sometimes a student gets stuck on a project and  just needs to let go of the problem consciously and let the rest of the brain sort out some things so he or she can get back to work and solve the problem.  However, for students this isn't an all day thing (if it is there may be something else going on - like truly goofing off).  Students generally only have one or two projects going on at once and so the down time is shorter.

    Right now, I have about 20 artistic problems to solve and I haven't been allowing myself any down time.  I guess I've thought that since I'm not a student anymore, I didn't need that time.  This was foolish of me.  Just because I'm not in a classroom doesn't mean that I'm suddenly not a student of art.  It doesn't mean that I don't go through the same processes of creation.  I've felt guilty about sitting and staring into space and not getting as much done as I feel I should have. 

   Until yesterday, that is.  Because I finally accepted that I have a backlog of information that my brain needs to sort out.  I'm not the kind of artist that just creates one thing.  I'm not a just a painter, a potter, a sculptor, or a jewelry maker.  I do a little bit of everything.  And right now I have commissions in every one of those areas and I work as a makeup artist.  My poor little gray cells couldn't keep up.

   So instead of taking just an hour or so to process, I needed all day due to the backlog.  And I let myself have the whole day.  It felt really great.  I slept well and soundly and woke up refreshed.  I think that today, finally, I can get a lot of work done again.  I'm excited about getting work done again. 

   Doing nothing yesterday means that I can do more today, without all the stops and pauses and getting angry and glaring at my materials.  This is good.  Maybe I need to let myself do nothing a little more often, maybe if I do this more often, it won't take a whole day to get sorted out.  I need to remember that what applies to an art student still applies to me, and try not to be so hard on myself.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Parents are Strange

     So this weekend, my mom and I hauled our artistic wares up to a festival in a part of North Georgia that time forgot.  It went pretty well, I think.  Attendance was not as high as we would have hoped, but because mom paid for our lodging and food, I still managed to make some money from it.  She considered it to be a mother-daughter weekend getaway, and booked us a nice room and we had dinner at a great restaurant, and all in all it was a lot of fun.  We met lots of really nice people at the festival, got lots of compliments on our work and leads on future events.
    None of this is strange, of course.  No, the reason I say parents are strange is how their viewpoints change over time.  When I was growing up, my mom knew that I loved art.  Loved it.  Loved to look at art, loved to create it.  I wanted to be an artist.  I started drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil and never stopped.

    Mom didn't want me to become a "starving artist".  She didn't want me to never create art again, she just tried REALLY hard to steer me away from it as a career choice saying that I'd never get anyware with it.  It was to the point where my high school art teacher sent me home with a list of art jobs and their salary ranges to show her that I wouldn't starve to death as an artist.  She was not swayed.

    For years mom said I should be an English teacher. Then for a short time, she suggested I be a dental hygienist.

    I worked a variety of office jobs, collections, medical billing, dental front office work,...then I decided I wanted to finish college.  I chose art education, as stated in a previous blog, because it seemed like a good way to still be an artist and have a steady income.  Again, as previously stated, that didn't work, and I've been trying to figure out what to do next since May.

    The only thing I know to do at this point is to keep making art.  To try really hard not to give up and go back to the office.  I joined a ceramic center,  where I go and make pottery.  I make jewelry that I have listed online and that I take to festivals.  I draw portraits, paint, or do whatever someone commissions me to do.  And I apply for art jobs like mad.  I'll be starting later this week as a make up artist at a haunted house, and I'm expecting a call back about teaching part time at an art museum.  However, for the very small sums I have made so far, it looks like mom may have been right about that "starving artist" thing.  At least right now with the economy in the gutter.

     However, instead of silently gloating and pushing me back to an office job, my mom has changed her tune completely.  Now she has this incredible faith in me that I can make it work.  I can be successful as an artist, teaching when I can, and selling my work the rest of the time.

     I was going to have to quit the ceramic center, because I really just haven't made enough money to be able to continue paying for my membership, and mom refused to let this happen.  She has given me the money to pay for next months fees and made me promise that if I can't afford to continue to go I'll let her know.  She said it was an investment for her.

     An investment?  Helping me create more art is an investment?  She really thinks I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and that soon I'll not only be able to scrape by, but that I'll be a successful artist.  Not a "starving artist", not one that is just barely able to feed herself, but a successful artist that actually makes more money than what is absolutely required to exist.

    So at the point in my life when I'm thinking maybe she was right all throughout my childhood, and that art should just be a hobby, she's pushing me on to be an artist as a career.  Yeah, .... parents are strange.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Note to Self

Boiling eggs left too long unattended (or forgotten) - EXPLODE!!! And smell really bad. :(

That is all.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I am not cool

Not that I really needed any additional assistance figuring this out, but today I got another example of my utter uncoolness.  I went to a family barbeque at my Grandpa's house.  It was fun, there was good food, and a large number of family members from my dad's side.

Sometimes over at my Grandpa's, folks will play horseshoes after dinner.  I have never been invited to play.  I have always wanted to be invited to play.  My sister gets invited to play.  My aunts get invited to play.  So, it's not like it's just a "man thing" and girls don't get invited.  It has made me sad that I never really get to be a part of after dinner games.  I thought that maybe they hadn't realized that I wanted to play, and that's why I wasn't ever asked before.

So today, when I saw that people were playing horseshoes, I went outside and sat in the grass nearby.  I tried to make sure that I was noticed, listening to conversations, laughing and cheering at appropriate moments.  My sister asked if I played horseshoes and I said it had been many years since I last played and made some self-deprecating remark about my abilties.  When the match ended, and they were looking for new players, I sat up a little straighter and looked around expecting to be asked.  I mean, I was sitting right there, waiting and looking interested.  I had already engaged in self-deprecating humor about my ability to throw a horseshoe.  I knew playing was supposed to be fun.  I wanted to be cool too.

Instead, they called for someone on the porch to come out and play.

Maybe I just needed to wait a little longer.  So I did.  I waited until I could no longer hold my bladder, quickly went inside and came right back out.  Then I went back to sitting and watching them play horseshoes.  And still didn't get asked to play.

My husband came out a little while later and joined the next game.  He was asked.  I wasn't.  He was.  Right after coming outside.

During his match he looked over at me and seemed to remember previous conversations about how badly I wanted to be asked to play horseshoes with my family.  After his game, it looked like horseshoes were going to be over for the evening.  As they talked about putting the shoes up, I could feel the little daggers of shame sharpening their points.  Thankfully a couple of folks were willing to go another round.  My husband asked me to play.  I repeat: I waited there all this time hoping a family member would ask me to join in the fun, and my husband asked me to play.

I think he just didn't want the rant on the ride home if he got to play horseshoes with my family and I still didn't get asked. 

If I were cool, this is when I would have stood up and shown off some great horseshoe throwing talents.  But I'm not.  I only got one point, and it didn't count, because my loving husband threw his shoes and got a fraction of an inch closer to the pin than I did.  I felt bad for my uncle that he got stuck with me as a partner.  But at least I didn't have to bear the shame of no one wanting me for a teammate but my spouse. 

I would think that the fact that I suck at horseshoes could be why I've never been asked.  However, they didn't know I suck at horseshoes.  And even if they did, there are plenty of people who get asked to play that are bad at it too.

Nope, I think I don't get asked because I'm not cool.  I'm a geek, and geeks don't get asked to play backyard sports.  Except my dad.  He's a geek too.  But he gets a pass because he plays golf and likes to watch football.  Everybody just forgets he's a geek until he starts talking about anime and complaining about the poor selection of titles at local stores.  I'm not sure how a person gets this kind of pass.  Is liking football a requirement, or could other sports get you in?  Do you think it's too late for me to apply for one?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Have I mentioned lately that I'm depressed?

        Some days are better than others.  This is the way of things for all people, really.  And within those days some hours are better than others as well.  Part of the day may be fine, and then somehow, somewhere it starts to break down, and everything just becomes a reminder of what you are not, what you don't have, what you can't have, and how crappy life is right now.
        I have a college degree.  That's good.  I have massive debt accummulated aquiring that degree.  That's bad.  When I went back to college 3 years ago, I chose art education because I love art and love sharing it with others and being an art teacher would be a secure job that let me do something I enjoy.  At that time, art teachers had even made it onto the critical needs list for schools.
        Enter the Great Recession.  Schools have no money.  Teaching is no longer a secure job, as many teachers have been laid off.  A new art teacher with no experience doesn't have much chance of landing a job in this economy, at least not a full time job teaching art. 
       My wonderful plan where I quit my full time job that I didn't like, but it at least paid the bills, to go off and pursue something I really wanted backfired.  Now I have no job, lots of debt, and I really don't know how the bill paying is going to work out when my husband and I run through our savings, or what we're going to do when we start having to pay on those student loans every month.
      I keep hoping something will turn up.  We'll be okay.  I can work odd jobs and try to sell some art, somewhere that the spouse has applied to will actually realize that he has a great mind for science AND has the ability to explain it to those of us that don't, and we'll make it through somehow.  But some days it just makes me really sad.  I grew up thinking that if  you had a degree, you could get a good job.  It didn't even matter what your degree was in, if you had completed a course of study in college and had that magic sheet of paper, you could get a good job.  I have my magic sheet of paper, I worked really hard for it.  I graduated summa cum laude.  My magic sheet of paper isn't working.  It cost a lot of time, effort and money, and it doesn't work.  I want a refund.  I want a do over.  I want a magic sheet of paper that works, maybe mine is just a dud.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Search for Signs of Life

Sometimes, in solitude, I'm not quite sure that I'm really alive anymore.  I certainly don't seem to get very much done these days.  I need a goal to reach, a problem to solve (one that is actually solvable, please) or barring these things, a job would be good too.  So to help me keep track of the days that seem to simultaneously drag on and fly by, I decided to start a blog.  I'm not sure what all will be on here yet, and it may be that none of it really makes any sense or has any kind of cohesive theme.  But it will help me measure the days until I can be sure once again, that yes, I am in fact, breathing, moving and doing stuff that's important.