Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gabriel and I at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Cherry trees in full bloom. What a lovely day! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 29, 2006

New Life, New Ways

Need to find ways to recharge my artistic energy. NEW ways. The old ones aren’t working anymore because my life isn’t my old life. New life, new ways. I can’t sit with my journal and pens and paints for hours and hours anymore, staring off into space and letting my fingers get dirty. Now, there’s a little boy who needs watching, and wants to make his own messes. Which I then have to clean up. I know little excercises might work. I know. But it’s so hard to get the juices going, to switch gears, to come up with something while little man is sitting there, or standing there, or laying there kicking his heels up.

I get ideas when I don’t have opportunity to try them out. Like wanting to draw pictures of the things from his day—the cherry blossoms and lilacs from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. A great cartoon dog from a book at Barnes and Noble. Or a real dog named Pinky, sitting outside of Teddy’s Bar and Grill, which Gabriel spent hours watching.

I read blogs and sites about creative types, and it is inspiring, it is. But I don’t have that time that I used to. Once upon a time, I would read my blogs or books and then I would go paint or write and do whatever I had been inspired to do. Now, I read, and then hear the baby stirring from his nap in the other room. Mommy time over.

I know it’s possible. I have to work on it. Figure out this new trick.

Like a baby learning how to stand, how to walk, how to talk. I'm new at this, just like Gabriel.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Easiest Peasiest

I got a library card. It was so much easier than I even thought. I kept imagining things that would get in the way. Maybe I’d need a utility bill as proof of address. Maybe someone would have used my card and built up fines. Maybe the stroller would be too difficult to get up the stairs… maybe, maybe, maybe.

It turns out that i went in, showed an ID, the librarian punched some numbers into the computer, I signed the card, and that was it. Wow. Didn’t even have to wait two weeks for the card to come in the mail.

I think I always imagine things to be more difficult than they actually are. Sometimes that imagining stops me from trying, or from persevering. And then I do not achieve the things I want to achieve.

It may be time to give up the life philosophy I picked when I was 13: Hope for the best, but expect the worst.

I lived that to save myself from heartbreak and disappointment, but I think it sometimes turned into a self fulfilling prophecy. Expecting the worst, all the time—it was as if I didn’t deserve to get the best, didn’t deserve to get what I wished for.

Definitely time for a new philosophy.

What do May Flowers Bring?

I can't believe it's almost May. MAY. That's the month of soft Spring that's right before Summer starts.

The trees full of leaves and flowers constantly surprise me. I look at them, and think, "Wow! Where did that come from?" Time has sped up so rapidly, it's quite taken my breath away. Time passed leisurely last year, in comparison to now.

Gabriel's infancy is gone. Long gone. He's almost a year old. I could actually call him 10 months now, although I think I'm stuck on 9 months. He's standing, pulling up on furniture, cruising along the coffee table and sofa, he's walking if he holds onto our fingers. Isn't that a toddler? He is literally toddling along, chasing after the cat.

So I'm not the mom of an infant anymore. And I won't be the mom of a toddler for long. I see the other moms in Williamsburg (and there are a LOT) the ones chasing after their toddlers, and it seems like such a permanent state. It seems like they are so far ahead of me, and I will never get there, and they will never be anything else but toddler moms. But that's just not the case.

It's all a transition. Life is always on it's way to some other state. Motion. Moving. Mobility. Gosh, he'll be starting school soon. I just heard from another mom that my zoned school is actually a good one. That's a lucky relief.

So am I supposed to be thinking about schools now? Gabriel learns to sit up, learns to eat solids, learns to walk-- then school? Greadness Gooshus. Okay, maybe some talking and toilet training in there, too, but it seems like first love and college and his own apartment is right down the chute.

And then what about me? What about my goals? Ignore them now for Gabriel, so that when his life is taking off independently I have nothing? Nuh, uh. Take care of mommy, take care of baby. I want him to have a fulfilled mother. I want him to know it's possible to work for and attain the goals that are most important.

I'm thinking ahead, definitely. I need to work on using those moment that I have in the present, though. It's those little present moments that get us to the future. Step by step. Day by day. First it's April, then it's May, then...?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bear With Me

I finally got a digital camera! It is a long awaited purchase. Now I can post pictures, too. I can post a picture of Gabriel, and my art, and beautiful things I see on our walks, and... and... and all sorts of things!

However. I still have not figured out how to get the images that are in the camera into the computer and onto the blog, or various other sites where I need them to go. Nothing sinister about that, I just haven't had the time to even attempt it. Technical things are close to the last thing on my To Do list-- even after the dishes, if you can imagine.

Bear with me. Hopefully, I will soon be stepping up my blog. Baby first, then me, then Sean (but he's at work all day), then house, then blog.

Oh, wait. I haven't eaten breakfast yet. I really have to start being diligent about my To Do list. I don't even eat if it's not on the fricking list.

Monday, April 24, 2006

I Fell off the Horse

I’ve been sick for the last two weeks. Nothing serious, just a bad cold, but I just didn’t feel like writing. Or doing much of anything. Then Gabriel got a little sick, and that took all my attention.

All my goals fell by the wayside. Chicken soup was more important. Orange juice. Tea. Naps.

Now I’m feeling better, and I want to get back on that horse of activity and growth and movement. I want to start writing my novel again. (The 100 days idea is still there, I’ve just added 14 extra days to it. 114 days to write my novel…well, we’ll see) I want to get back to my poor neglected blog again. And I finally got my digital camera, so as soon as I have the time/energy to figure out how to get the pictures from the camera into the blog, well, then I’ll have visual proof that I’m not making it all up.

I also want to get back into the goal of cleaning my wreck of a house. Gabriel’s learning to cruise/walk and to pull himself up to stand, so the house is turning into a minefield of baby dangers.

How to get back into the routine? Baby step by baby step. Back to the To Do list. Keep determination without expecting perfection. Realize backsliding is natural in all processes, but especially in creative processes. Be aware of those dread excuses that get you out of doing the most important, scariest, hardest things—for me it’s “I don’t feel well” and “I’m too tired.” Fight through the resistance. Stand up, Sit down, fight, fight, fight. Gooooooo Horse!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Things That Make Me Happy, 11 through 20

11—A junky street in Williamsburg lined with green/white flowering trees. Like frosting for old tenements and factories and cement. Proof that Spring is coming—and something that Gabriel has never seen

12—Walking down Bedford Avenue on the first really warm day of Spring.

13—Running into people I know and stopping to have conversations with them on the street.

14—Outdoor cafes.

15—Flip flops, and being able to wear them outside.

16—Stopping in a thrift store to browse and finding brand new storage baskets for $3.50

17—Watching Gabriel learn how to stand… particularly when he uses a sleeping Papa as his ladder/prop. First he grabs hold, then he gets his feet under him and sticks his butt up in the air, then he pulls up with his arms until he is looming over sleeping Papa. Then he stands there, wiggling his butt around and talking to himself.

18—Gabriel talking. “Dai dai dai dai. Ya ya, thhhhhpppppppbbbtt. Aaaaah. Dai dai. Thhhhpppbbbttt!”

19—That Gabriel falls asleep listening to Bob Marley.

20—Coffee with cream and sugar. That’s all. It’s the simple things.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Keep it Going, Sugarlumps

It's after seven pm and Gabriel has gone down to sleep. No afternoon nap, because he no longer sleeps if he is in the stroller. Too much to see! Too much to see!

I am off duty. Phew. Still on-call, of course, but off duty. Sean won't be home until late, because he's taken on some extra shifts for the money, so it's all me. We can only hope the boy won't wake up.

So, it's time to jump back in to the writing. I've been sick with a pretty bad cold, and have nothing left for creating or even thinking, particularly after taking care of the baby. I was on such a good roll not too long ago, and then I got sick, and didn't care to push myself through the icky feelings and cotton stuffed brain.

I've been trying to figure out what is the balance between allowing myself the imperfection of not always being on top of everything-- and keeping my determination and commitment to my goals. Is it okay to take a few days off because you're sick, or because there are family commitments? Or should I be vigilant in keeping my writing priorities high?

I guess the balance I have come up with is to allow myself some days of not writing, to allow myself to take care of myself, or other responsibilities, or even to be sick and lazy, while at the same time keeping track of that slack, and not allowing the inactivity to take over.

It would be really easy to NOT write right now. Not in the blog, or the journal, or the story ideas. It would be easy to sit down in front of the tv with something to eat and just veg. Normally, that's what I do. Evening hours are my decompression hours-- but it's been so long since I haven't written, that I feel I need to work.

Work on top of work. Oh, well. That's what I want. I wanted kids, and I still want to be a writer.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ten Things That Make me Happy

It’s time to do this. It’s time to pay attention to what is great about my life, instead of what I don’t have enough of.

Everything has changed so much in the last two years. My life has seemed to spiral off into a different direction than it was going before. It feels a bit out of my control, as if it has all happened to me without any active participation on my part. I have a tendency to focus on “fixing” the things that are wrong, so I look around my life, and all I see are the messes, the lack of time or money or attention. I worry about not going anywhere with my art and my career. I worry about not getting what I want out of life.

It’s definitely time to switch all that negative energy into positive. Like draws like. If all I see is lack, I don’t know how I can ever be fulfilled. However, if I look around and see abundance, that will open life up for more abundance. It’s all mindset. I want my positive mindset back.

1. Gabriel’s eyes—They are large and almond shaped, with long eyelashes. And they are such an unusual color, a ring of midnight blue on the outside, a gray/blue/turquoise in the center, and a ring of yellow/green inside that. Depending on the day, the light, and what he is wearing, his eyes are gray or blue or green—or some combination of those colors.

2. Writing again—it’s such a relief to have my creativity come back. It’s a relief to have ideas again. It’s a relief to be productive. It’s relief to have that motivating passion. Just one big “phew!” and a load off my shoulders.

3. Being held by Sean—it just makes me feel safe and loved.

4. The plants in the front window—I enjoy looking up and seeing the light filter through the green leaves. Plants make a house feel like home.

5. Gabriel when he laughs—there is something that is just so pure about a baby’s laughter. It touches something outside of the everyday. It’s like the true nature of being human, or of god.

6. Me Laughing with Gabriel—I don’t know when I belly laughed as much before Gabriel came along. Adults don’t go off into giggle fits like kids. Adults aren’t amazed and entertained by so many things. It’s beautiful to get that back.

7. A nice, hot shower, without worrying about Gabriel waking up, or “hearing” his cry in the water going down the drain, or the exhaust fan, or the cat meowing—self explanatory, no?

8. Oatmeal with brown sugar and bananas!—I just had this yesterday and was surprised at how tasty it was.

9. New episodes of “Lost” on TV—lame, maybe, but for an hour, I get sucked into a Pacific mystery adventure. And the baby’s asleep by then, too.

10. Making the bed—Who knew? First of all, it makes me feel like I’ve done something. Like I have something under control. And then it also looks like a blank slate whenever I walk in my bedroom. There’s a place to rest my eyes without chaos or piles of clothes/papers/books.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I Am an Artist Because I Say I Am an Artist.

[edited to add image]
Saying Yes
Journal 9/1/09

I've thought about this a bit, and decided what makes someone an artist is basically two things.

1: Self Identification. You have to believe yourself an artist. It's not about what other people say or how many people say it, it's about believing it. It's not about how many other things you have to do in a day or who you owe your time and energy to. It's not about selling your art and making money or being published or performing infront of an audience. It's not about how good you are and how much talent you have--I've known plenty of people with lots of talent who never considered themselves artists and so never were. It is about trusting your vision and living an artistic life and creating art because you ARE an artist.

2: Commitment. Commitment to your art and your craft. Commitment to exploring. Commitment to giving your time and energy to create. Commitment to a project. Commitment to an idea.

I would say it's the first one that is most important, because it's really about believing you have the right and the potential to create. It's nearly impossible to put all that energy into something that you don't believe you have a right to do.

I think that may be why it's easier for young people to be artists and writers and musician and actors and all that-- they really BELIEVE they have a right to do all this. OFCOURSE they are artists! But as life ticks on and they learn everything that goes into being an artist, and they confront all the people who say no, and the difficulty of the craft itself, and struggle with their own creativity, and all the other things in life they have to commit to, and doubts about their abilities and so on-- they come to believe that they may not have as much of a right to be an artist as they thought they did. Maybe that's when people start giving up their poetry or their paintbrush for "real life."

It's perfectly rational to put making a living or taking care of your family above painting a picture. Perfectly rational and adult. I think you really have to believe that being creative is vital to your identity, your happiness, even your sanity, in order to put it above those adult things.

I carve time out of my day with Gabriel, out of my (pitiful) housekeeping, because I am an artist, down to my toes. It is a vital part of my identity, and without it, I start to shrink in on myself.

I am not saying-- I didn't say it anywhere here-- that being an artist is a good and wonderful thing. I certainly didn't say it's an easy thing. Sometimes I think it would be nice to live a simple life that consists of a career and a family, without the constant need to be creative and productive and innovative and go searching in my head and heart for more emotional depth so I can put it on paper. I'd still be teaching if it weren't for my belief that I am an artist. My house would be cleaner and I'd have a garden and dinner on the table every night.

I am an artist because I say I am an artist and am willing to make sacrifices to BE that artist.

Which leads us to #2: Commitment.

Yes, I should be committed, because being an artist is often a crazy thing to be. It's like leaping off of a high building sometimes, because you really believe that you can fly. Of course, when you're an artist... there is the chance that you actually can sprout wings and take off into the sky.

I'm only half kidding.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Tips and Techniques

I'm still not feeling 100%. Head still hurts, but Daylight Savings Time means Gabriel hasn't woken up before 8am, and I'm getting a little bit more sleep.

I took a little vacation from being productive, from my To Do list, and from the dishes. Now the dishes are starting to pile up and smell a little bit. And not writing is piling up in my head, and that's starting to stink a little... especially since I'm getting used to the lazy day, not doing anything lifestyle.

On the other hand, the weekend was all about family time, and we had a good time. Gabriel loved having a little picnic in the park while Papa played softball. And he stayed up late, giggling and scooching back and forth between mama and papa on the couch.

So the time off from my work was valuable. Maybe I should actually build that into my schedule. I need to be realistic about how much I can do and when I can do it. I need to give attention and time to my family as well as my ambitions. It's all a very intricate web, I think, but there should be a way to work it all together.

Right now is the time for Mama's work. However, I'm feeling stuck. It's hard to get it up again after taking that little break. What to do?

What do I know about being stuck?

I know that if you put all your energy into how you are stuck, you will feed the stuckness. You will stay stuck. However, if you put your energy into moving forward, that’s the direction you will go. In other words, if I go on and on about how I can’t write, wonder why I can’t write, write about not being able to write, talk about it—that is what will happen, I will be unable to write. But if I put the same energy into writing, either just sitting down and powering through, or planning, or doing exercises, maybe figuring out a character sketch, or so… well, then my head will be in the book, not in not writing, and the ideas will flow.

I know that I can do 15 minute exercises and get somewhere

I know that sometimes a sketch or visual outline can get juices flowing.

Oh, hey. An idea web! Let’s turn to a different hemisphere of the brain. Work the whole organ. Brainstorm all those ideas and see what things pop up and what that leads to. Those are always fun, because you don't have to have everything figured out. Your subconscious actually works for you.

Talking to someone about your story ideas. Damn, damn. Why don't I start that writing group? (Maybe I'm a little scared that starting something like that will mean I actually have to live up to what I'm talking about. Money where my mouth is, ju know what I mean?)

I know that what I should REALLY be doing to get myself out of this stuck is stop going on about it, and just start writing.


(Don’t think about how Gabriel is probably going to wake up in a few minutes and you won’t be able to get anywhere, anyway. Don’t think about that.)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Uh Oh! Roadblock!

The past two days, I have not been able to write-- well, not in the novel. I've done journals and blogs and such, but not the novel. And I don't know if I'm going to be able to work up to getting anything done today.

I'd better be careful, because this can lead to the end of the project. I know this, because I have been in this territory before. I must keep the motivation and remember the why's of what I'm doing. Keep up with the To Do lists, I think. This is where having a writing group would help, or at least having a writing buddy-- somebody who's waiting for your next page, who can call you on not writing or talk to you about your problems.

But rather than freaking out about not keeping up to my schedule, I am going to take this as a learning opportunity.

First Question: What is stopping me?

The Answer: I think it's mainly about exhaustion. I don't think it's a coincidence that my not having any ideas or energy to work on them happens at the same time as Gabriel's teething and crying through out the night. Or waking up from naps early, or fussing to be held all day long.

Yeah, you know what. I'm sick. I have a terrible headache and can barely concentrate on this entry.

You know what else? I'm going to give myself a break, relax, and not get down on myself because I'm not productive.

I'm not gonna do the dishes either.
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