Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
An Altered Book, Mixed Media 2003
Chapter 11 Adventure
Here she is, Flying Girl. Jumping and falling and flying and gaining powers and becoming herself. It's so funny to see Flying Girl in other stages of my life. She first appeared when I was in college, but keeps popping up.
This is another timely chapter to my book, because I have to say I am freaked out.
It's looking like the move to California, knock on wood, might actually happen soon, (crossing fingers). It has been postponed again and again and I am kind of at my wit's end about it all. But the possibility of it happening soon is scaring the hell out of me.
I'm a nester. I sit and make my spot in life comfortable. I collect things and get myself a comfy chair and a lot of books and I cook nice food and paint things to put on the walls.
But this move will be a blank slate. A fresh start. From zero, pretty much.
I don't know anything about California except what I see in tv and movies and read in books and hear from distant friends. It sounds cool and all... but it won't be anything like what my life used to be like. Of course, my life now isn't what it used to be like.
Last night I had a hard time sleeping envisioning it.
But I know that the way to handle this kind of fear is to reframe your thinking.
The unkown can be scary... it is true... but you want to know what else it can be? Say it with me.
Rather than focusing on how frightening it can be to be in completely new surroundings, cut off from the familiar, I am going to focus on the adventure of it. The discovery. The possibilities.
I've never seen the Pacific.
Or San Francisco.
I'm looking forward to adventures in thrifting and yardsaling. I love that kind of stuff. I am looking forward to decorating a home.
Come to think of it, I am looking forward to being without all the stuff that often keeps us back. Sometimes it is literal stuff, all the posessions that we hold onto and that keep us in a certain place, sometimes it is our psychological stuff.
When you are in a completely unknown place, without all of those people and places and activities and habits that have shaped your life, are you not free to create the life of your dreams?
This scary move into the unknown, is it not just a super adventure and the chance to focus on all those things I've always wanted to focus on?
Maybe my super powers will be set free. Like this flying girl in her chapter here.
Oh. PS. On the nanowrimo front. Yesterday was a good day. I started off early and made a list of things I had to do, and then... I did them. I know, I know, novel concept. But the more small steps I too towards doing these things, the less they were scary and overwhelming.
I am on stage 4 of the snowflake outline method, and probably won't get to the end, but I never have gotten to the end of that. And I would totally be able to start this baby tonight if it were November 1st. What I'd really like to do is finish my 50k words by the middle of November, so if I do actually move by the end of November, which is one of the possibilities, then I won't have to deal with packing and writing a novel and moving and freaking out all at once.
I have decided the 100 hours in 100 days concept is not working for me. Sadly. I think I'm going to have to let the concept go for these last 100 days of 2009. It's not working. I gave myself the wrong challenge, I think. 100 hours of writing did not work out. It's possible that it is because of the timing and the moving and the upheaval and nanowrimo and everything else that's happening. Under other circumstances it might have been perfect.... but that's one of the things about a challenge, it has to fit your life the way it is.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Lots of Ideas and Flying Girl Enters the Picture
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003
Chapter 7: Ideas
bounded in a nutshell
fame & success
the notes of a.... song
where I am from where I am going
Hey. The ideas spinning through my head 6 years ago are still spinning through my head today.
And right now they are a cloud of ideas, a mish mosh, a cluttered landscape.
Notice, if you please, the tiny Flying Girl on the top right hand of the book. I told you she was not a new idea for me.
So, what to do when your brain is full of ideas, none of which seem to be concrete? None of which seem to be coming to fruition?
You, well, I take baby steps. I plan out the list of things to do. I write out the dreams and the steps I need to take to get there. I remember that the only way to accomplish things is little by little. I remember that all those little steps add up to the journey.
I guess I need to do some planning and listing and organizing and delegating and prioritizing of my lovely ideas/goals.
I know I do. The more I understand all that I have to do, the more I will feel capable of accomplishing the really big things I want.
Step by step. If those ladders didn't have steps in them, they'd just be poles sticking up out of the ground and they would be so much harder to climb.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Oh the terror and the glory of it all
An Altered Book, mixed media, 2003
Sometimes I think my altered book is reaching out of the past and tweak my nose.
It seems rather prophetic.
How did the book know that I would be infused with terror right about now? Lots of uncertainty and transition, opportunity and commitment, risk and struggle.
Sometimes I try to avoid the whole thing and get busy with tv or pointless web browsing or escapist fiction.
But I can see there are things starting to happen now, and perhaps it's time for me to step out of my mental retreat and enter the world again. Start getting things going. Stop feeling sorry for myself.
Here is my book reminding me that out of terror comes glory. Out of darkness come light. Out of confusion comes order.
You just have to keep going.
I believe in messages from the universe. I believe in synchronicity. I believe that sometimes we have to remember to listen.
So maybe if you stumble across this post today, maybe it's a message to you to remember that the fear doesn't have to conquer you. Maybe you just have to go through it, and have faith that there is indeed glory on the other side of the terror.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Surrender: This Is My Life
An Altered Book, Mixed Media, 2003
writing, left page:
story/lived/on/story//books/written/lives lived/Born//into the world/wanting love
some strange impulse of the gods/kissed/laughed//slipped/love/come into/my//self
Let me tell you people. This chapter, 6 years old, sure does come in a proper place in my life, in 2009.
What I struggle with now, lately, is surrender to my own life.
The story that my life is telling in its day to day and its long term living.
The confusion. The hidden, unseen direction that I am flying. The confusion of how to get to the future that I want from where I am now.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Godliness of My Tattered Life
An altered book, mixed media, 2003
This is one of my favorite pages, in its simplicity. I cut out a bunch of pages into a frame and glued them together then gessoed over them. Trying to find some image of Godliness. A leaf was at hand. I liked it. I even like the way the leaf has browned and the page has yellowed and become spotted (I left this page propped open and on view for quite some time). Perhaps godliness, far from perfection, is actually beat up and faded, a part of the transformation of life... which is a part of the transformation of death, in all honesty.
Life and death. Creation and destruction.
In order to make something, you must make a space for it to exist. In order to gain, you must let go. In order to grow you must destroy the old you. I think too often, we equate destruction and loss with evil. But I think that if we don't understand the place of this "negativity" in the "positivity" of life then we don't really understand life.
Maybe that's when we get stuck on this idea of perfection, thinking we must be only light and no shadows. Thinking we should never be sad or silent, tired or unproductive. Thinking that in order to have something we must have EVERYTHING.
I'm going to tell you, in order to be a mom and be a creative person, I have absolutely had to give up things. I've given up money. I've given up freedom. I've given up socializing. I've given up space. A lot of people would not be willing to give these things up. But for me, I needed to have the room and time so that I could go where I wanted to go. I don't regret these losses.
Well, sometimes, but I am willing to wait to get back to these things.
For instance... nanowrimo is coming quick quick quick. I have been working on my outline about an hour a day... but that won't be enough to get my wordcount up. I am going to have to sacrifice somethings. It's going to have to be the internet and the tv. Sigh. I loves me my internet and my tv, but I really really want to have the space to get this novel out of my head and onto a page.
So I will release. I will let go of my comfortable routine and kill my bad website addiction. I will put a hold on fashion and decor browsing. I will stop watching tv shows that I don't really care about and turn the tv off after the ones I do, even if Friends is on or I might be able to find a movie I'd like to see or What Not to Wear is on right this minute.
Let it go. Say goodbye. Let some things lie silent and fallow... and turn that time and energy towards something that I am committed to.
So there's my godliness for the month of November. The creation of a whole new world. The tatters around the edges of what will be the rest of my life. I like tatters. They have charm.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
An Altered Book, Mixed Media 2003
Chapter 6: Nobody Knows
I didn't know how much sense yesterday's post made. I rewrote it about three times.
I tell ya, when you're in the middle of things growing and changing, in the middle of creation and sometimes destruction... not much makes sense.
In order to make sense, I think you have to be able to find some perspective.
Now THAT can be so hard.
The thing that I have realized lately is that life is change. We are always changing we are always transforming and shedding skins, facing fears and dealing with disappointment. We are always reaching for the next goal and releasing the things we used to hold so dearly.
Stability is an illusion. We like to think that things will stay the same, that we will be safe and comfortable in our old shoes. We get settled in our routines and when things happen to shake them up, it can really throw us.
But even old shoes are always evolving... mostly devolving, but changing.
This chapter of my altered book, if I remember, was prompted by a challenge in my women's group at the time. My challenge was to do scraffito... although it was not my preference. If I were to do it today, I'd do something different, change it so that it fits my current sensibilities... but this book is 6 years old and it is what it is. It represents who I was in all of my imperfection. It also marks a spot in my life, and how far I've come.
And this page, for all its imperfection, was about me accepting my life, for all its imperfection.
Gosh I still struggle with this.
I think for me right now, in this period of transition, I have to shrink my goals down to right now where I am. Don't start any new projects (although perhaps do some thinking about future projects,) just keep working on the things I can... my novel, my blog, and my life.
Because the truth is, nobody knows what the future will bring, for good or ill. All we have is right now, today. Right here.
This is enough. Release the ambition and just be present. Say yes to the now. Say yes to this life.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The Meaning of Life?
Altered book, 2003
Chapter 5: The Philosopher
To alter this chapter of "The Philosopher" I decided to get real. Here's my interpretation of my life. This was the year I'd quit teaching to focus on my art and writing. I was waiting tables and bartending at a Mexican Restaurant in Williamsburg. I was making my book. I was writing. I was even starting to write art reviews for a neighborhood paper. It was fun.
The picture above is me taking a cigarette break outside of my restaurant. I didn't smoke that much, but it allowed me a break, so I took it. Stood there, got some air, watched the people passing. It says here, "The things we do to keep the flame burning, and write our fire in the sky." Those are the lyrics to a Bonnie Raitt song, Luck of the Draw.
Here's the view of my restaurant from the Polish Diner across the street.
I thought about documenting my life itself, not just getting stuck in my head. I often get stuck in my head. You can still see the same tendencies today. I was trying to find my way out of that place.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Mother: Then and Now
An Altered Book
Mixed Media, 2003
Chapter 4: Mother (found poetry)
left page: MOTHER
through the streets
the spirit of
life, damn it!
are you ?
It's very interesting. I made this altered book long before I was an actual mother. And although I wanted to be a mother, some day, it was an abstract concept. Whenever I thought about mothering or pregnancy or birth, it was always in terms of creation... creating art.
Here the chapter given to me was "Mother" and all I could think about was being an artist. I'm sure he, the original author, Sherwood Anderson made his chapter about being the son of a mother, perhaps looking at his mother in her age, after years of being the mother of a man. Now I look at it an what is trying to be born is The Self, from the depths of The Mother.
How often, in history, in literature, in art, is a mother considered for herself, rather than for who she mothers, how she mothers, her iconic position as Mother?
Oh, maybe it's changing, now that more women have a voice, now that mothers are beginning to speak out about what it means to be a woman, a human being, as a mother.
left page: yes
right page: something/needs/to be/born.
Where I am now, as a stay at home mother whose time is dedicated to caring for her children all day long but who is also trying to carve out a place in all this for her art and writing, is confused.
I think it's a balancing act. A continual balancing act. Weighting my tasks this way or that, looking for a place for myself and giving my children the love and attention that they deserve.
Sometimes I think I have a balance and everything seems to be flowing easily... but that always falls apart as my goals change or external circumstances change, or the children change... as is their job, to change and grow.
This balance is not a static thing. It is fluid and sometimes more like a juggler trying to catch something before it falls, rather than some perfectly balanced thing.
Yesterday I worked on my new novel for one and a half hours. No. TWO hours. I took one hour when the girl went to nap, then a half hour while they were eating. then another half hour when we all went out to the back yard, I sat on the swing seat and they ran around with fudgcicles trying to find various ways of getting dirty. They succeeded better than I did, to be honest, coming in for bed filthy. My brain was clogged and cluttered and having a hard time focusing.
I got quite few ideas for my book yesterday, but had some trouble putting them in order. Balancing them.
Well, today is another day and I will look for my bits of time to work in between naps and meals and I recorded an ocean documentary so the boy will probably be engrossed for an hour while I focus on getting all those new ideas down in some sort of order.
Must remember to keep breathing and remember the long view. Be nice to myself. I think it will help me stop snapping at the kids when they spill their cheerios on the floor, yet again.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
An Altered Book
Mixed Media, 2003
Chapter 3: Paper Pills
left page: PAPER PILLS
white page: I// w//a//n//t// i//w//a//n//t// nothing/all
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Memories of Art
An Altered Book
Mixed Media, 2003
chapter 2: Hands
the words here (and they are the actual text of the original book) say
the hands/shoulders/ears/eyes/hands/face./body/feet/hands eyes/ shiver/hands/eyes/hands
the "read me" pocket has words on a twisted thread and the words say (in the tiniest letters possible, I don't know how I wrote them so small):
how to make a dream real?
a real dream?
How to make a dream real?
make it real
make it real.
It's been many years since I made this artist book. And it's kind of interesting to look back on it. I am not "in" the place I was when I made it, and I don't really know what my intention was here, but I remember it, and I remember it fondly. That time of life. The explorations. The freedom. That me.
Interestingly, I was looking back at my journal from about a month ago, and the same thing happened. The interesting part is that a month ago, I still had swine flue, was terribly stressed out and was trying to pack up my stuff and get ready for a move, all the while hoping we could pull out a new job and a better move, and never managing. Really always feeling like I could never do all that I "should" do and always feeling like I was falling short.
So while I was drawing in my journal, it seems as if I captured the best parts of my life and let the stresses and illnesses and blues fall away. I looked back and I said, wow, that was a nice time. However when I was living it, how often did I look around and say, wow, this is a nice time?
I'm not sure what the lesson here is. That maybe I should accept my life, in all its chaos, and embrace the beauty that is there. I keep trying at this and keep failing, thus adding to that stress. Which probably means I am not doing the zen thing quite right. Well. There's a reason why there aren't little buddhas running around the streets of every town. It's HARD to be zen and live in the moment.
Maybe the lesson to be learned is that art is a way to understand, to transform the life that we are living. Maybe art can find a way to distill the living. I think that's what it should be. For me, anyway. I suppose my art is pretty autobiographical in nature. My illustrations of my outfits are a straight journal of my days, as are the drawings of the little leaves and twigs and flowers my kids give me. But the more abstract pieces, the collages, the doodles, these also serve as a memoir of my days. And so do the flying girls. These are a journal of my internal life. Even when I simply sit and paint a scene out my window... if I look at that painting years later, I am sucked right back to the time of the painting and I am there, again.
It's very interesting.
When I was a kid and studying art along with all the other kids, we had a pat answer about what art was. The purpose of art. Every class, every year of my HS education asked this question. But I didn't know. I didn't understand. I didn't understand WHY I was painting or WHAT I wanted to paint. I didn't understand what the point of it was for me.
I am very thankful for my education as an artist when I was so young, but it is life that taught me what art really was for me. I'd say I was probably 27 before I started sharing my internal world in my art. And everything I experienced in life added to the meaning.
And the meaning is still developing, still growing.
Huh. This is not where I meant to go with this post. I think I was going to say something about writing my post while the kids were sitting right here, watching Max and Ruby, so that when nap/quiet time came around, I could actually do my writing work, my 100 hours, my novelling, my brainstorming, my revising. But the old altered book took over my head space and hijacked my post.
This is kind of why I like using art work in all my blog posts. It adds something to the meaning of the words. It gives it a different tilt, a different perspective.
I like throwing dissimilar things together and seeing what comes from the collision. Speaking of... I think I'll do that with my werewolf girl story. Taking an old, unfinished novel, an old unread short story, and the idea of the paranormal werewolf story and smoosh them into something.
Well, the kids have decided I've written too long without paying attention to them, so I've got to go back to the day job and get the munchkins some lunch.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Old Work, New Work, HO-O-OWL!
Williamsburg, Brooklyn; A Journey/Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Altered Book, Mixed media
So I was off line for a while and did some moving. We are still in transition, planning the move to California, but delayed due to situations that did not pan out as they should have. Now, the kids and I are living with my mom and they will have some good fun before we go off across the country.
I however, am completely off my feed and no amount of Nick Jr can make it right.
I haven't written in a couple of weeks, nor have I painted. But I have been doing some thinking.
What I am posting here today, in the way of art is actually an altered book I created in the fall of 2003. Oh so long ago. A whole lifetime ago. The year I quit teaching and went back to waitressing and bartending, but before I met Sean and had kids. And certainly before our lovely recession.
It was the first time I really went deep into art, into one specific project instead of jumping around. I was given this book and then decided to alter it. I was guided only by trying to find a way to fit the chapter headings into my life as it was. Everything else was pretty intuitive and when I started out, I had no idea what I would be doing.
This is the first chapter. There are quite a few other chapters. I don't know if this is my favorite chapter, but it is where I started so I thought maybe I'd just show it in order. It's called "The Book of the Grotesque." Don't ask me. I just went with it and don't know if it makes sense. It's not really supposed to make sense, I guess. Or perhaps it's about making sense of things.
When nanowrimo is over, I'll want to get away from the new novel and can go back to revision of number one.
Hey. If you want to do nanowrimo, too, sign up and write 50 thousand words towards your new novel in November. It's fun, and no matter how far you get in your goal, you'll be farther along than you would have if you hadn't tried. There's still time to brainstorm and outline that fantastic idea that's been in your head for so long... and not too much time to think about what it all means before you enter into the thick of the furious writing. Come and play. And thank Marta for helping me to decide.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Long time no post.
Sorry about that. I had some internet/computer issues and could not for the life of me get access.
It's fixed now, but I had to spend my day taking care of business, so nap time is now over and I have to go make dinner and I don't have the time to do a real post.
I just wanted to leave a note saying I was okay and I will be back with a real post soon.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Back Alley Way, After the Kids Go to Bed
Day 8 of the 100 Hours of Writing in 100 days Creativity Challenge.
One HALF HOUR this morning again. 4.5 hours total. 3.5 hours behind.
UH OH The deficit is getting worse.
Something needs to be addressed here.
I started writing with good intentions but had to stop. Why? Because there were kids who were demanding my attention and I was simply unable to focus any longer. I said to myself, once I make lunch I can write a bit more. I said, once the girl goes down, I can write a bit. I said, once I entertain the boy or once I respond to this email/twitter/IM or once I prep dinner or.... well, now it turns out the girl does not want to sleep any more and I didn't get a drawing done for this post and I didn't get any extra writing done, and now I know dinner must be made and i know once dinner is achieved it's about wrapping everything up and putting kids to bed and then, well, then I will take the garbage out to the dumpster and I will look at a view similar to the above photos (although a little darker, now. Every night a little darker) and I will be too tired to write.
Okay. So let's say instead of being after bedtime and looking down the alley at the sunsetting, let's pretend we are standing out in that brick lined alley and taking a deep breath of the air that smells like flowers and lime and the heat has spilled out of the sky and the shadows are rising and we can just be. Just be in the moment.
Let's be in the day for this moment.
Release the have tos and the expectations.
What do you want to do?
I want to finish this novel.
What do you need to do to finish this novel?
I need to sit down and write every day. I need to commit. I need to focus on the grand shape of the thing and the details of the words. I need to sculpt it. I need to live it. I need to love it.
What is getting in the way of doing that?
Organizing my time. Prioritizing that time. Sticking to my guns no matter how tired I am or how I feel I need to "relax". The kids still come first, and there are some things, even some big projects I need to commit to, but there are some pastimes that I use to distract myself from living the life I want to live. The main thing that is getting in my way is the internet.
How can you take that obstacle out of your way so you can live the life you want to live.
I think I need to give myself a budget for the internet. And I think I need to stick to it. Perhaps not turn on the internet at all until I've written my hour. That's tough, because I need to check my email at least... don't I???
Do I? Can I wait until noon to check my mail? Or rather, until 11:30 when I make the kids their lunch? Can I avoid Facebook, twitter, etsy, flickr and those other addictive sites? Can I wait until noon to peruse my blog reader?
I need to cut out the chatter. I am absolutely distracting myself with busy work for much of the time. I'm doing it on purpose, too. Pretending an intention to write, but really know I'm just going to surf the web and search for something new to fill my head with, instead of the thing I really want to give my attention to.
I need to spend more time breathing in the place where I am, and less time trying to catch ahold of some sort of invisible wave, trying to get somewhere, all the time. Trying to fill every moment. Trying to multitask every minute.
I think I should try some more of that nothing, too. Remember the nothing. And then continue on with the everything. Find the fear, and then release it to find the meaning. Choose the dream, and then let go of the things the clutter the path.
What is getting in the way of your dreams? What is blocking you from taking those steps down that path?