February 26, 2018

Late to the Game

Have you ever felt like you were drowning?  Yeah.  Sometimes it's like that.  Your breath leaves you momentarily, your vision gets a bit blurry, you may even feel a slight tingle in your hands and feet.  The good thing about that feeling outside the water is that you do eventually catch your breath.  You reset and go on about your business.  

I will (hopefully) graduate college in just a couple of months.  Before that I will have artwork in the student gallery for people to see.  Needless to say I'm horribly nervous and a bit worried that my work will be acceptable and ready in time.  You might think that art is any easy thing to throw out into the world, but that's not true.  There is a massive line between fine/high art and craft art.  Neither one is better than the other, it's simply a difference in audience.  My audience is a fairly demanding one.  

In the midst of classes where I learn or hone techniques, we also spend a lot of time doing research and watching documentaries about contemporary artists.  Many times I walk away feeling like I'm I'm horribly behind my peers.  Many of my instructors have been my age, some are younger than me by several years.  But every single one of them has been in their career or medium for as long as I have been in mine.  While these people were finishing grad school or maybe backpacking across the US making connections with other artists, I have been working in warehouses and air craft hangers.  I don't want to downplay what I've done in life thus far, but it is a far cry from what I imagined myself doing when I was a teenager.  And yes, there is a measure of jealousy when I see what they have done with the same years I've had. 

I've been listening to My Girl talk about her coming adult life.  She's got many plans and aspirations.  The "responsible" (read: buzz kill) parent in me wants to tell her to be realistic, not all of that will come true.  The lost dreamer in me won't allow that to happen.  I won't tell her to back her plans up a bit or to stop dreaming so big.  If anything, I've come down on her for not doing the foundation work to make those plans happen.  Watching her reach makes me remember when I reached and fell short.  I did what I thought was correct at the time.  While I don't exactly regret the decisions I made, I don't revel in them either.  I definitely feel like I missed out on a lot by doing what I was expected to do.  Now I'm 40 years old trying to relate to people that are not exactly where I am in life.  My academic peers are half my age, while my life peers are where I wish I could be.  

I try to take it as my opportunity to tell them the things parents and employers won't tell them.  Give them the little sneaky details that others won't admit to.  But there are moments that I want to go back and redo my past.  I would like a chance to see what I would have become had I not followed the prescription handed to me.  What if I'd never stopped painting and told him that I needed to be home to sew and create....what if I'd have finished college 20 years ago....
I've been told to stop looking at the shoulda, woulda, coulda's.  I see the logic in that.  I truly do.  A person will drive themselves crazy thinking about all the things they should or could have done.  We can't travel backwards, but we can weave a new tapestry, a new journey.  

I don't revel in the fact that I'm finishing an art degree at 40 years old.  There's a tiny piece of it that is slightly embarrassing.  If I didn't have anything to show for the lateness of this endeavor, I would not have been so open about my choice to finish the degree.  

Right now, today, I just want to have a successful student show.  I want my teachers to be proud of me.  It's been a massive struggle because my mind has been closed for so long.  Something happens when you sacrifice creating for business and survival.  You lose that creativity...you lose little pieces of yourself, or at least...they get buried very deep inside.  It can be stressful and frightening to find them and dig them up...and then put those little pieces to use.  There will come a time where you have to put away your fears of someone not understanding your work or your message.  

My show is about balance.  It is a voice of my past, but with that I am still affecting a balance between what my former peers will accept and what my new peers have seen in me.  With luck, the two worlds will collide and be in some form of agreement.  


November 09, 2017

Scars

It's been so long since I made this a regular thing, I have almost forgotten how to spill it.  Something in the last year or two flipped in me that made me not want to type anything out.  Kind of a self censorship because I began telling myself that I shouldn't be putting all the things out there the way I have in the past.  Then it hit me in the last 24 hours that when I was typing the BS out of my head, it was much easier to manage.  It's irrelevant to me if anyone else reads it, it was always about clearing the cobwebs out of my own head.  So why'd I stop?

We're still tending wounds as the year winds down.  Wounds of all sorts and kinds: physical ones, mental ones, internal and external.  There are going to be some lasting impressions once all of this dies down.  If last year was a roller coaster, this year must be a drop ride.  Ya know the ones, they take you way high in the air, let you think you're safe and then suddenly it lets go and your heart stops when the ride does just before you touch the ground.  Yeah.  That's a good description of the last 10+ months.  Heart stopping, eye opening, fear and anger inducing moments in time.

I've seen more of a hospital this year than I ever care to see again any time soon.  Since the original issue back in February, Honey's health took a bad turn and it's been an uphill battle thus far.  Strangely enough between running there, keeping up with classes, taking care of my not so little one, I haven't had time to dwell on old or unnecessary things.  I guess that's good right?  I've been on autopilot for the vast majority of it all, acting and reacting according to each moment.  There's always a crash that happens after a while though.  I never could maintain that kind of momentum without falling at some point and my reaction is typically pretty horrible.  And as the classic story goes:  when everything is falling apart, that's when someone wants something from you.  The ex, of course, has to show up and try to push his will and way into the mix right when that's the very last thing I need on my plate.

Mini-vent:  He fucking bought her the cheapest trashy car that he could find so he would look like a hero!  Brought it here, paid for the registration, gave it to her....and left.  Literally, drove it down, dropped it off, made a big show of taking pictures, stayed the night...and left.  That's it.  Hey kid, daddy bought you a car!!  Bye.  Hooray for added insurance expense when we are struggling to keep afloat with new medical issues throughout the house.  Hooray for a car that's almost 20 years old that leaks like a sieve.  Yeah, he may have driven it from 4 states away but she won't be leaving the tri-parish area in it.  #fatheroftheyear  And why bother seeing your child for your week long holiday visitation right?  Just have her around for the day of the holiday and the travels days.  I guess being a highly educated gym rat is more important than interacting with the only child you're aware of having.  
Sorry, I just needed to get that out.  

Woosaaahhh.  The holidays are supposed to bring about the thankful attitude and help us remember what is important in life.  Well.  I'm grateful my husband is whole (somewhat) and getting better every single day.  I am thankful for the bits of family and friends around me who have checked in and helped out, whether it was to chat/vent or to wash dishes and make sure my kid got fed.  I'm grateful things are not so bad that they aren't manageable, just really uncomfortable.  I'm grateful that I am the kind of person who can take all of these challenges and keep pushing through them.  Heaven knows there have been evenings that I've sat in my truck and considered how much fuel I had, how much money I had, and how far it would all get me.  At this point, I don't know if it's strength, stupidity, or self sabotage that's holding me in place, but I'm here.  What I do know is that I don't know any other way to do things other than to just pick up the slack everywhere I see it and go with that.  

Honey and I have a lot to work through, both individually and together.  When you have a couple trying hard to make a second round work and be more successful than the first, adding in new and exciting traumas don't exactly help the situation.  It can only go one of two ways:  hardship can strengthen a bond or it can force two people completely apart.  We haven't fallen apart and I don't believe we will.  We will simply continue to take care of each other and try to keep that scar as minimal as possible.  Devotion is a hard pill to swallow when you're still working through old, deep rooted trust issues.  The one actually dealing with the trauma is waiting for the other one to freak out and run, while the one having to watch the trauma occur is waiting for that person to just shut down.  There's absolutely nothing easy about watching your spouse or loved one go through a thing and there be NOTHING you can do to stop or affect it.  

So what do we do?  We put the appropriate bandages where they belong and we keep watch to make sure nothing foreign comes in and tries to undermine all the hard work we put into healing.  And when it's all said and done we are left with a faint reminder of what happened to get us to the place we need to be.  One day at a time, one step at a time, we will rebuild our health, our home, and our life.