Nesting like crazy

A few months ago my husband and I found a handmade shelf on the sidewalk outside our apartment that we both immediately fell in love with. We didn’t really know what we could do with it, but we took it inside anyway. Once there, it shifted around our front door like an unexpected and awkward visitor. Sometimes it was covered in junk, sometimes the cat slept on it, other times it stood empty. I was honestly beginning to think we should have just left it on the sidewalk.

It turned out to be a good choice, however. Last week I got super inspired and I actually managed to create a space in our bedroom for our son’s nursery. In that moment, a use for the shelf became immediately apparent…as did the true extent of my nesting insanity. I couldn’t handle the idea of a black shelf in my nursery, so I decided to paint it. I went out to the store that very night and bought all the supplies I needed, and then I have spent some time each day since then making it beautiful.

In case you are concerned about the fact that a pregnant woman is painting furniture, I figured I should clarify that I have taken every precaution when it comes to avoiding fumes. I have 9 foot ceilings, gigantic windows that catch the north/south wind perfectly, a ceiling fan, and four box fans. I’m all good!

This is the fabulous shelf so far:

BlueShelf

Extra blue. I love it. I’m contemplating writing nursery rhymes around the edges of the curved openings, but my penmanship is pretty terrible so that may never actually become a reality.

While he’s a baby we’re going to use it to store his toys and diaper bag, and whatever other random supplies I need. Once he gets older it’ll be a great place for frequently-used books and toys, and for displaying art projects. My mother pointed out that it’s exactly the type of structure a kid would want to topple over and play inside of…..I’m thinking I might need to find a way to (mostly) prevent that.

The rocking chair in the background, by the way, we found for twenty bucks at a thrift store. Not a bad deal!

While we’re at it- welcome to my studio. In all technicality it’s actually the living room in a two bedroom townhouse, but it gets great light, the wood floors make it SO easy to clean up my messes, and the ceilings, as mentioned before, are extra high. We installed shelves along one wall for all my random stuff, plus there’s a metal rack, an extra large walk in closet, an exceptionally ugly dresser, and two more tables in the room that you can’t see because they were all behind me. Although I have issues with the rest of this apartment that make me very happy our lease is up at the end of the year (for instance, we live across the street from a football stadium….), my studio is to die for and I will be very sad to lose it!

 

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Transition

Today I sit at my computer, sipping a cup of coffee and waiting for a phone call. It doesn’t seem like a major thing; that’s a pretty typical routine for many people. For me, however, it’s the beginning of the rest of my life. My new manager will be calling me to discuss her company’s creative process, and to give me work. Real work. My mind is racing while I wait, and I want to say something about my thoughts. However, I find myself with so many ideas that I can’t settle on any specific topic.

I could talk about how surreal it is that two weeks after admitting there was an epic war going on in my soul, someone went and dropped the Ring into Mountain of Doom and now it’s time to become the Queen and build all the necessary infrastructure for ongoing peace.

I could talk about how excited, frightened, and happy I am, and how hard it is to walk through my daily life with all these raging (and occasionally conflicting) emotions flooding me.

I could talk about how hard I worked to wrte the perfect resignation letter for my restaurant job, and how I nearly tossed my cookies from nerves before I could actually get into work and give it to my boss. I did, however, actually talk to him, and my last day there is September 11th.

I could talk about how oddly fitting it is that my last day there will be one month to the day after I wrote my initial post in this blog, and how happy I am to have a definite end date.

All of those things would give me pretty decent blog posts if written about in detail, but for some reason I feel like leaving it in summary form is a better idea.

Instead, I’m going to continue to sip my coffee and enjoy these moment of tranquility and transition for all they’re worth.

In the field of opportunity, it’s plowing time again.

The opportunity that will make or break me landed on my door step last week. Well, actually it landed last year around August, but for some reason I was still afraid to fly so I didn’t take it. It’s a good thing the person offering me this opportunity is familiar with my talents and skills and was willing to offer it to me again! This time –if I can pull myself together- it will be my salvation.

I have been offered –and accepted- the opportunity to work as junior creative talent for a group that does design work for big corporations. Assuming that all goes well on Monday I’ll be a contracted freelancer (I think that’s the correct terminology….don’t hate, I’ve never done this before!) working from home. It pays well enough that even if I only get ten hours of work a week, I’ll be able to squeak by paying the minimums on my monthly bills. If I do well and I start getting, say, 20? Life will get really easy. Finally, if I do REALLY well, and get more than that…I can finally say good bye to debt. I have to say…that’s some damn good incentive to do well, even if I’m not taking into consideration all the other benefits of the job!

By this time next month, I could be working from home, and using the talents that I have always felt so insecure about to support myself in a legitimate career. It’s not exactly the crazy artist dream that sparked the creation of this journal/blog /thing, but it is a very good start. I’ll be working in an environment that provides me with all the support and direction I need to succeed … and I will never, ever have to interact with clients. It will also provide me with more free time than I’ve had since I was a teenager…what on Earth will I do with it all? Thinking about the freedom that is just within my grasp is utterly intoxicating!

I am going stir-crazy while I wait, that’s for sure. I can’t start until next week, and I can’t turn in my notice at my current job until I know for SURE that this will work out (so…say…two weeks from Monday?).  I want to turn in my notice tomorrow. I want to tear all my manager uniforms up, and buy clothes that actually fit me. I want to dance, and sing, and howl “hallelujah!” at the moon.  I want to paint my son’s nursery in a rainbow of colors and glory in the fact that I don’t have to scrub it off until I feel like it. I want to stay up all night and watch the sun come up tomorrow while eating ice cream and talking about the future with my husband. I want to celebrate in every way I know how, in fact!

And yet, I have to wait…and while I wait, my insecurities and neuroses creep up on me like childhood monsters, threatening to take away all my joy. Even being aware of them, they are hard to push aside. I am naturally a worrier, and one of my biggest concerns right now is that the people who recommended me for this job might have vastly overestimated my abilities, and set an expectation that I will not live up to. The only way to get past that concern is for time to pass and for me to prove myself not only to them, but also to myself. My family is convinced I will be fine, and at moments like this, when I am reveling in all the positives, I am also extremely confident that everything will work out great. I’m just….not very good at waiting. I never have been.

Good grief! Why did I let myself believe that being in the restaurant business was better than pursuing what has been the center of my universe for my entire life? I kill my soul for 50 to 60 hours a week at that diner. I come home tired and sweaty, unmotivated and grumpy, and I never have the time, money, or inclination to do anything I love. Meanwhile someone who shines like the fucking archangel Gabriel has been standing by patiently waiting for me to notice her through the doom and gloom. She wants to pay me the same amount of money to work less than half the number of hours because she needs my talent, and I’ve been so wrapped up in my own insular world that I forgot she even existed.

What the hell was I thinking?

My son seems to have picked up on the fact that I’m feeling better. He is kicking and kicking and kicking, and every movement makes me smile a little more.

Little boxes made of ticky-tacky

I have spent the last ten years asking myself (and others) “What’s wrong with me?” and never getting any closer to the truth. The closest I have ever come to enlightenment has been during my occasional trips to see the immortal girl with kaleidoscope eyes. During those quiet hours watching the known world warp into a fantastic network of lines and color, I have also been able to see what I loved and loathed about myself in terrible detail, and accept the reality of who and what I truly am.

For some reason, I have never acted on those truths when I come back from those journeys. I come back feeling as if I had just been given a glimpse of my heart’s desire, only to have it whisked away where I could never achieve it. I go about the business of ‘real life’ with a sense of nihilistic doom, and although I have asked myself why, I have never seriously pursued the answer.

Something changed recently, and I started really thinking about the difference between the me I see in the mirror, and the me that others see. I have come to the conclusion that at some point in the past I came up with a mental image of how my life should be that has absolutely no relation to what I actually truly want(ed). The vast majority of that concocted mental image is based on how I think the world wants me to be, while the rest is based on an overwhelming need for security.  The end result of this false dream has been the creation of a stolid workhorse for my employers…and utter misery for me. Because of the portion of that vision that is self-serving (my need for security) I have never been able to turn away and pursue a different path. Thus it has gained more control over me…and more, and more….with each passing day. It has gotten to the point now where I can barely see any connection at all between who I am as a person, and what I do in the outside world.

It saddens me that I have become so limited in my thought that I don’t immediately turn to creative self-expression unless my emotions have gotten so strong that I can no longer ignore them. What happened to the other tattoos I wanted to get, and the spontaneity with which I got my first three? What happened to my piercings? What happened to the hours I used to spend decorating my clothing? Why haven’t I covered my car in random bumper stickers? Why haven’t I decorated my apartment? Why haven’t I done more to prepare for the birth of my son? Why don’t I write for fun anymore? Why do I limit my music choices to the pop genre? Why, when I know it’s what I want to do, can’t I produce artwork to sell? Why can’t I focus on planning for this glorious future that I want so badly?

The answer to all of those questions is that I am only human, I can only endure so much, and my self control is wavering. If I do not focus every ounce of my stamina on surviving the incredibly demoralizing situation I’m dealing with at work, I will break down. Rationally, I know the results of such an event would be disastrous. Emotionally, however….I want to break. I want to be done. I want to be able to rest without stressing about having to go back to an environment I dislike, where I am disliked and taken advantage of. Maybe I have actually already broken and I am desperately clinging to the ragged edges in hopes of salvation…I really don’t know.

Regardless of what happens in the future, it feels like I have spent my entire pregnancy crying. I cannot believe that that is good for my son’s development.

The epic battle begins…

I realized that I was not cut out to be a corporate restaurant manager right around the same time that I discovered that somehow, against all probable odds, I was pregnant.  In other words, for the last five and a half months I have been fighting an inner battle of truly epic proportions. If the fields of my mind were laid out on a map, they would resemble the last stand of the free folks of Middle-Earth against Sauron at the black gate of Mordor.

I am an artist. I am scattered, yet hyper focused. I am shaken to the core by my inspiration, and desolated by its absence. I stay up until 3am, I don’t set my alarm clock unless I have to, I drink too much coffee, I don’t do my dishes, and I don’t care if my house is a wreck as long as I know where to find my tools. I find dried paint in my hair and wood chips in my shoes, and I don’t care if my clothes are stained or torn as long as they are comfortable. I dig through drawers and boxes to find change to pay my rent (or to buy armature wire, whichever seems to be the most pressing priority). I glory in the beauty around me, and I recreate it at every chance I can. My eyes see the potential in every spare scrap of wood, fabric, paper, or metal, and my fingers make use of it.

I have spent my entire life attempting to shove this side of my soul into a neat little box, out of an irrational need for financial security, and the harsh opinion that my talent could never reliably support me. Rather than attending an art or craft college, I pursued degrees in web development, business, early childhood education, and sociology. My ineptitude in those areas showed; I did well in my courses but I could not maintain interest for the years required to obtain a degree. I skipped here and there, and finally dropped out. I made a place for myself in the restaurant industry, and proved to be good at the paperwork side of management (though I have never yet been able to force myself into being a ‘people person’, as people in general are very frightening to me).  I got my current job, and I thought I had it made. I have a salary, after all. I have a clear path to promotion, I know the steps I must take to obtain it. And…I am overtly, unavoidably, absolutely miserable. 

I wake up each morning with a lump in my throat. I iron my shirt, I put my hair back, I put on my make up, and I eat my breakfast. I get in my car and I try to pretend like I’m driving to the coast, or the mountains, or anywhere but the corporate cookie cutter that I work at. I arrive, I try not to let the back handed snide comments of my opening server get to me, and I hide in my office for as long as I possibly can before going out to face reality. I found joy in accomplishing the record-keeping work they assigned me…at first. Now it is drudgery, a thing I do because if I don’t do it I will get written up. I find every excuse I can to avoid doing what I have to, and I leave as quickly as I can at the end of my shift.  I cannot ignore the fact that spending all that time in a place I hate robs me of more than just my day; it robs me of my inspiration, my passion, my motivation. I dread going back to work the next day so much that I sit and do nothing simply because it makes time pass more slowly.

The thought of having to go back there tomorrow is unbearable.

For the last few months, the chaotic artist side of me has been exerting itself more and more. I want to be able to actually see my son grow up, my heart reminds me, and at my current job I’ll be lucky to see him for a few minutes each night before he goes to bed. He will grow up without me, and I will wake up in ten years wondering who the gum-chewing mop-headed hellion who just stomped through my kitchen actually is. I want to make an impression on the world, it reminds me another time, and I will never do that as no-name middle-management for a conservative corporation. I am a rebel. I am passionate. I am free. What am I doing clipping my wings?

The simply truth is that I stay at my job because I am afraid.  I am afraid that I will pour my heart and soul into my art and there won’t be enough interest in it for me to make a living.  I am afraid of not knowing how I will pay the rent. I am afraid that I will roll right along fantastically for a few months and then my inspiration will go on vacation and I’ll be left high and dry. I am afraid of abject failure because I am not a saleswoman.  I am afraid of not being able to take care of my son.   I am also, weirdly (although probably not surprisingly) just as afraid of actual success.

My family is telling me to pursue my art, my heart is telling me it’s what I need to do…hell, even my tarot cards are telling me to do it. I have a hard time believing that eight separate readings that contain the same points for thought are pure random coincidence.

The only question I have at this point is how and when do I move forward with this crazy-daisy plan to jump into the rabbit hole? At what point does it stop being insane? When do I put my foot down and say “no, I am doing this now,  and damn the short term consequences?”