Treading Water with Snooki and JWoww

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Image from here.

In the past week, I have watched four seasons of Snooki & JWoww. It’s been the only thing keeping me sane.

In October, the internet burped up a video of Snooki (Nicole) surprising JWoww (Jenni) with the fact that she got a boob job. I almost didn’t click on the video but curiosity and an old fondness made me do it.

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Image from here.

Unlike a lot of other people from New Jersey, I unabashedly loved watching the Jersey Shore. We were in California when the show began to air so it was nice to home from across the country. I grew up going to Seaside every summer and it was the highlight of my year. I have always loved people watching down there, too, so watching this show was just another version of that.

Anyway, when I watched the clip, I was struck by a few things: the hypnotic, calming quality of watching them interact, and their comfortable friendship. The weekend before the election, I was a nervous wreck and needed something to distract me from the constant political commentary that I was subjecting myself to via the internet, MSNBC, and CNN. I remembered Snooki and JWoww and noticed that they had a show on Hulu. I put it on.

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Image from here.

Pals, I got sucked in immediately. They just love each other so much. The show is clearly manufactured non-drama but it’s not common for TV to show such strong, genuine, supportive, non-competitive female friendships.

On the Wednesday after the election, I worked from home. I worked from 8:30am to 10pm and I watched it the entire time to self-soothe. Since then, I come home from work, read horrifying things on the internet and put it on to avoid reality.

I’ve seen things in this last week that are unforgivable posted by people I thought were my friends and allies. People telling us to be quiet in our fear. People being blatantly dismissive of our concerns and ridiculing our grief. People engaging in respectability politics and calling us disrespectful for not immediately falling in line with their vision of America. I’m embarrassed for these people. If they could see themselves through my eyes, they’d be horrified.

I’m watching it now so that I don’t tell someone in particular off. It’s the internet version of sitting on my hands and zipping my lips. I also wanted to pay homage to Nicole and Jenni for getting me through this difficult time. They are an important part of my story (LOLercopter). Thanks pals!

Nicole Polizzi Hosts A Joint Birthday Party For Her Children Lorenzo And Giovanna

Image from here.

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Brain Drain

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Image from here.

I don’t know how this country failed Hillary Clinton so badly. I mean, I do; racism, homophobia, transphobia, ablism, ageism, anger, and fear. The majority of Americans voted for this dedicated public servant who would have been the most qualified person to ever be elected to this office. Instead, because of the Electoral College, and the aforementioned darkness, we now have the most virulently cruel President-Elect in our nation’s history.

I’ve been all shades of defeated, depressed, apoplectic, and hopeful over the past few days. I’ve been (like so many others) in total fuck it mode, just arguing with people online outraged that people could be so uncaring and/or apathetic. It honestly  made me feel a lot better because I’ve been veritably meek for the entire year + of this election; not wanting to get into fights or be a poor winner. Boy were we mistaken. That was the absolute wrong way to go. We should have been this vocal and angry all along; but honestly, I don’t think my heart could have taken that. As it is, I’ve been stressed out over this election for over a year and I barely got into one fight over it. Although, had I, maybe I would have gotten some of that aggression out that made me feel so good this week.

I’ll calm down eventually; I already am beginning to. I have been researching and taking action on ways to engage with my community. I don’t want to talk about the things that I’m doing just yet because I have a tendency to stop working on things the second I mention them. I’ll just say that the things that I’m working towards are incredibly positive and inter-connected. I have a good feeling and am feeling inspired.

Before I go skipping off into positivity-land though, I want to say that the third party voters or liberals who skipped voting are the people who are pissing me off the most. Someone told me that I’m “just like those on the far right” and I agreed with her in that we both have something we believe in. That’s why I’m not as mad at the people on the far right. They legitimately BELIEVE that they did the right thing. Although I find it absolutely abhorrent, I can’t argue with that logic because I, too, believe that I’m on the side of right. What I have seen in this election is misogyny in action both from the right and the left. Oh the horrors that a woman might out-qualify every male candidate in the race. Lots of gaslighting in this race from the Bernie bros. They convinced a generation of liberals that Hillary Clinton was basically a far right republican. I’m horrified.

The other thing that is unsettling to me is how little I have to say to get a huge reaction out of people. They aren’t used to us speaking up at all so every tiny pushback is like I burned their house to the ground. They literally cannot hear how abusive they have been all this time and aren’t used to being challenged so when I treat them exactly how they’ve treated me, I’m “rude”. I’ve been called worse, too. I don’t care though. None of that matters right now.

The beautiful thing that’s come of this is that I’ve seen people making connections, too. Kristyn and I have heard from people that we normally do not. Connections have been forged where there didn’t used to be. We are uniting around a cause and maybe if we’d done it a little sooner, Hillary would be our President. It’s too late to wonder about that now; we just have to look forward and not get so complacent again. It’s just the first time we’ve lived without fear in our lives and it felt GOOD. Now we’re back to the drawing board and I am hoping that we can connect and move forward together.

What do I want for my Birthday?

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Us in front of the foggy river. I’m intentionally making my head the smaller one which could not be farther from the truth. It’s why we’re LOL-ing in the picture.

This year, I turned 37. It was kind of a weird transition for me. I’m not bothered by age but for some reason, this one sort of did. I guess it felt very, definitely, adult. I don’t often feel “very, definitely adult” so that was odd. Normally, Kristyn and I go on a road trip for either of our birthdays. This year, all I wanted to do was go Upstate and relax so that’s what we did. It was perfect. It rained all weekend and all we did was lounge around and read. I finished two books and read two others. I painted and crocheted. We watched Maude and drank tea. We napped while the rain tapped on the roof of the trailer. Oh! We went to the drive-in movie theater and saw a double feature (something about a pet dragon and Life of Pets). We also took an extra day off of work to make it a long weekend. It was everything I wanted. Also, Kristyn gave me great gifts: Clue on DVD (which we watched), a little Holtzman doll from Ghostbusters, the first Babysitter’s Club graphic novel (which I read), and a Fitbit Blaze (which I’m currently wearing). It was awesome. She also gave me an ice cream cake and balloons which was really sweet.

I have had sort of a difficult year. I say “sort of” not to downplay it but to give it it’s proper due. Objectively, it’s been a good year with some bumpy patches. I’m having difficulty with some relationships with people who are close to me. Something about the way they left things with me made me see them in a very different light. I’ve realized that I’ve been entirely too accommodating to these two people; to my own detriment. I am suddenly feeling very clear-headed about the situation and that makes me feel better but it also makes me sad. I feel better because I have realized that theirs isn’t a burden that I need to carry. I think now that I’ve realized that, I ought to be able to make better decisions for what I need. It makes me sad because it’s going to take a lot of work to defend my boundaries in a calm way. I think it’ll be worth it though. I definitely can’t keep going the way that we were.

In my 36th year, I allowed myself a lot of self-reflection. I am still working on that too. Mostly, I freaked out a lot because I finally finished school and didn’t have a clue what to fill that time up with. I let myself enjoy reading again. I (sort of) got back into being creative. I started exercising for the pleasure of it. I started treating my body a lot better (though there’s work to do there yet). We got a doggy. We spent a lot of time Upstate relaxing. I put a lot of energy into my job. We started socializing more. I think it was a productive year.

In my 37th year, I want to take action on my interests; no more time for reflection, just action. Amanda Palmer said that some years are “inhale years” and other years are “exhale years”. My 36th year was an “inhale year” after several “exhale years”. I owed myself at least one. I suspect that part of 37 will also be “inhale” but that when I’m ready to exhale, I’ll know it and the winds will blow everyone’s hats off.

I guess that “what I wanted for my birthday” was peace. I want to clear my mind, body, and soul of negativity and toxicity. This year, I had a lot of space for thinking. It’s the first time that I’ve had that in a long time. It was maddening sometimes. Life is a lot easier with multiple distractions so you never have to think, feel, or make decisions. I’m grateful for it though. I hope that 37 is an exciting year.

 

Big Magic

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Image from here.

Recently, I listened to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is the author of Eat, Pray, Love (which I have not read). I’ve been in a creative slump for a while now and it was partially self-imposed. I mean, I’m still in it but I feel like I’m starting to peer out from the fog. I spent this past summer in such a state of high anxiety that I was freaking myself and everyone else out. I think it was two things: 1) A pill that a doctor prescribed me “in case my thyroid was under-active and 2) Because I was trying to force myself to be perfect. Now, I’ve brought up a lot of ideas, let me unpack them below. I’ll start with the under-active thyroid, move onto perfection-seeking, and glide right into Big Magic; how does that grab ya? Good? Alright let’s get started.

Earlier this year, we had decided to take the plunge towards researching fertility. We’d like to have a baby and I’d like to carry it. I’m interested in delivering via midwife and they provide gynecological exams so I figured I’d go for my annual at the midwife’s office. When I started talking to them about wanting to get pregnant, they referred me to go to a fertility doctor. Because of my weight and age, I’d be a “high risk pregnancy” and she figured that it would be best for me to work directly with an expert to make the changes of success higher. Okey doke. We started going to the fertility doctor she referred (which is the type of place that Kim Kardash might even find hoity toity) and they started doing all kinds of rounds of physicals and what have you. I mentioned that I feel like my thyroid might be underactive and when the bloodwork came back, it was inconclusive but she still put me on the smallest dose of synthetic hormone possible “just in case”. I dumbly took it because when you’re trying to get pregnant you’re just kind of like “sure, sure” to whatever they want. I researched it online and found all sorts of side effects (such as anxiety) that were possible but I put it out of my mind.

Fast forward a few months and I’m a goddamn mess. I’m an anxious mess at work. I’m an anxious mess at home. I’m basically in a 24/7 panic attack. I couldn’t think, was easily overwhelmed, and plain old frantic. I think that part of the anxiety was warranted. I am going through some personal things with my family right now that aren’t affecting me on the surface but are likely affecting me somewhere inside. Also, work happened to be very busy and frustrating at the time and I was bringing a lot of tension home with me. When I was home, I started putting pressure on myself to be twelve thousand things. I wanted to write a book, start drawing, learn the tarot, start doing yoga, build a successful blog, write a graphic novel, take up photography, learn photoshop, swim often, go to the gym ever morning, walk the dog; the list never ended. Because I had too much stuff on my list, I couldn’t focus on any one thing. Because I couldn’t focus on anything, I couldn’t get anything done. I wanted to be perfect but there weren’t enough hours in the day for it.

In August, I scheduled a one week vacation upstate with Kristyn. The week before I left for vacation, I got into a fight with my coworker, my back hurt from tension, and I was fast forwarding the time it would take to get out of there. I had started to remember that the synthetic hormone could mess with my anxiety so I researched it and found A LOT of horror stories from people on synthetic hormones who found it to be hell. Apparently, you have to mess with taking different levels of medication before you can get it correct and if you over or under-dose, you could end up feeling like a lunatic. It was then that I realized that I’ve never seen a GD endocrinologist and that my bloodwork came back inconclusive. I was taking a medication that I didn’t even know if I needed. Since I was in a crazed loop, I was probably taking too much or too little. I decided to stop cold turkey. I know, I know, I know. You’re not supposed to stop taking medication like that. I’m a rebel, Dottie; a loner. I stopped taking it and THEN went on vacation.

While on vacation, I was in a low grade panic attack the entire time we were there. It was interesting because I kept seeing the face of my boss and the coworker I fought with. I truly love these two humans. They are great people in general and awesome people to work with. However, they were two emblems of stress because we work a lot together and that’s the nature of that. As the week wore on, I grew less stressed. Our days were filled with reading, swinging on the hammock, sleeping in gravity chairs, drinking rum and seltzer or tea, campfires, and generally just chilling. Still, I was convinced that I was going to get fired when I came back. I was sure that they hated me. I was resigning myself to being let go. I was even starting to welcome the possibility of it as something that might be really good for me; a fresh start, a new opportunity.

WELL. I came back to the office and everyone was thrilled to see me, especially the coworker I fought with. I was anxiety-riddled to come back into the office but when I came back, there was no work that was on fire. Everything was fine. My boss was on vacation so I had time to re-acclimate to being back and catching up. When he came back the next week, he gave me my mid-year review. Apart from a few minor pieces of constructive criticism, the review was great. He told me that I’m doing a great job, he wants me to keep going in the direction that I am, that any criticism he has with my work, he’s just sure it’s growing pains as I mature into the position and beyond. He asked about my vacation and told me about his. He told me that if I ever need anything, have any questions, or need any help to feel free to come to him; no matter what.

Basically, you guys, Momma is crazy. Literally all this stuff was in my head. All this anxiety, all this paranoia, all this negativity, it was all imaginary. And the thing is, as time wore on, I noticed my mood lifting. I noticed myself calming down. I noticed myself being able to focus. I started exercising which lifted my spirits. Exercising also made me start eating better. Lately, I’ve been silly again and have been getting compliments from all sorts of people. I don’t know, you guys, I kind of think that a lot of that had to be the medication. Look, if I go to an endocrinologist and she says that my thyroid is under-active, I have to go on synthetic hormones (probably). If you’re thyroid is out of whack and you’re all “LOL whatever”, you can do permanent damage to your entire body. However, if my thyroid is fine and all I need to do is exercise more and eat right, that’s what I’ll have to do. THAT by the way, will also make me feel better emotionally and physically.

Back to Big Magic, however, because that’s where we started. This book came out last year at this time and the cover art drew me in. However, I wasn’t interested in reading it. While on vacation, we went into a hippie book shop in Woodstock and we found it on a table next to other books about creativity and self-actualization. I decided not to buy the physical book but to buy the audiobook and to listen to it since it was self-narrated. GUYS, this book is one that I think I’ll come back and listen to once a year for a kick in the seat of the pants. It was very disarming. It was narrated by the author (and I love it when an author can really successfully self-narrate their own nonfiction book). It didn’t read like a self-help book. It wasn’t woo woo either. I’m not against self-help or woo woo as genres but that’s what I expected and didn’t get. Instead, it was like sitting and listening to your most enlightened friend give you really great advice about your life; the type of advice you weren’t aware you needed but when you got it, you knew you needed to hear it.

The quote above is something that resonated with me on two levels: 1) She uses a dog with separation anxiety as an analogy for creativity. She says something like “Just like a labrador ripping up your carpet when you’re not home, if I’m not being creative, I’m being destructive.” I’ve come to this conclusion myself in the past. For me, I like to say “People need drama in their life; you just have to decide whether it’s positive or negative drama.” I honestly believe that if you don’t fill your life up with positive drama (school, creative projects, etc), you’ll find ways to create it in your life by fighting with people or just self-destructing in some weird flailing way. 2) She made me realize that I need to take Shirley for more walks in order to make her more relaxed at night, to stop eating the carpet, and to stop using the cat’s litter box as a snack station (gross).

The problem with how I approached creative solutions was OVERKILL. I was like “Me unhappy, me overload brain.” Guys, I fried the controls. Another weird thing that I invented and then found that someone else had two is something I called “The Four Building Blocks”. When I was freaking out about work, a reason why was that I felt like I was being pulled in too many directions. I reached out to a distant colleague in a similar job position as me to ask for advice and ideas. She asked me this question “Whose voice do you speak in?” I asked her what she meant and she clarified, “In your role, who do you serve? Who do you advocate for?” Because we are both in sort of an outward-facing role, she meant, do I advocate for my clients, the business, or some other thing. I didn’t have an answer to that because, in my role, I was speaking in too many voices. I needed to pare it down. I decided to rewrite my job description and pare it down to four foundational blocks. I decided that if my work didn’t touch one of those blocks, I wasn’t doing it.

Later, I read an article that used the same principal but applied it to your personal life. They said that you should pare your priorities into four building blocks that do this: 1) Make you feel forward-moving, and 2) Make you feel like yourself. For my personal life, I translated this to mean that for now, in this season of my life, I want to focus on four things: 1) Personal Life (Kristyn, social life, and home), 2) Work, 3) Health, 4) Learning. “Learning” is a little ambiguous, I realize. Mainly, right now I’m choosing to have that mean “reading”. However, I’ve decided to let “Learning” take the form it wants, depending on my impulses. For instance, right now, I decided to sit down and write a 2000 word essay on my struggles this summer. This is way more personal than I decided to write on this blog but it’s closed so whatever. I’ve been saying “guys” but I do believe that Kristyn is the only one able to read this (unless the subscribers are still able to, I have no idea). If that’s the case, that’s okay too. When I started this blog, I used to write free-form like this and would just jaw on about whatever I pleased without fear of recrimination. I let paranoia take root and it ruined something that I loved; writing for an immediate audience on this here blog.

The thing is, writing on a word doc does NOT get my creative juices flowing. Something about writing on a blog and knowing that it will be shared with at least one other person makes it easier for me to let my thoughts flow onto the page. I guess there’s a feeling of impermanence as is the case with blogs. I know that “the internet is forever” but I am who I am. Anyway, I’m running out of steam and I’d like to read for a little while before bed. I have two more days left in this week to slog through before we can go back upstate this weekend for my 37th birthday. Actually, a weird thought that I just had was that I believe that I started writing this blog in 2007 or 2008. That means that this blog is almost a decade old. Can that be right? Oh who cares. Time is a thief!

 

Hullo there!

Lately, I haven’t felt much like blogging. First, it was because I got so anxious that I didn’t want to commit anything to writing. Then, it was because I went on vacation and had no access to the internet. Following the vacation, I felt too calm and relaxed to blog about anything at all. I just felt like chilling. Currently, I’m feeling pretty relaxed but inspired to write something. I mean, right now in this current moment, I don’t have much of note to say but I felt like saying it anyway. I’m highly distracted at work today and needed to get my brain working. I figured that if I spilled a few giggles onto the page here, that I might be able to make my brain THINK. The thing is, I’m too giddy today. I haven’t felt GIDDY in a while so I’m loathe to de-giddify myself. My coworker is going to London for a trip next month and she’s planning it so we ended up talking about all the fun things there are to do there. The long and short of it is that we worked each other into a fun-loving frenzy and derailed both of our brains with funtime thoughts. Much appreciate but now I’m ruined for very serious work.

Before I go, I want to say a few things in a bulleted list:

  • I sent the below pictures to the foster network that we adopted Shirley from as an update to how she’s doing. Immediately they got in touch so I told them to please feel free to forward her pictures and my email to the family that adopted Shirley’s sister and they DID. I heard back from them immediately and they sent me a bunch of pictures of Georgia as well as the results of a DNA profile that shows that Georgia (and therefore Shirley) are 75% Boston Terrier and the other 25% is a mix but largely Pug. Weird!
  • I had a dream the other night that I was working on the Hillary Clinton campaign and it was SO BORING. However, I ended up going into John McCain’s office, meeting him and all his employees and going to a really fun pool party with them. I woke up just as they were offering me a job. Kristyn said that means that my political beliefs can be bought with a really good pool party. I think it means that I miss McCain because at least he was a normal person compared to Trump the turdburger. #ImDefinitelyWithHer
  • Speaking of pool parties, I went to the gym last week and swam while reading an Agatha Christie novel (Pocket of Rye) for an hour and a half. I’m going to do it again tonight.
  • Speaking of physical fitness, I want to start taking yoga classes at a local studio; either the new one in Harrison or the new one in North Arlington. I must talk to Don about the North Arlington one.
  • Speaking of Don, we need to set up a meeting for Mayor: Unopposed.
  • Speaking of reading, I set a goal to read 52 books this year. As of today, I’ve read 44. Sure, at least 20 of them were graphic novels BUT STILL. The other half is memoirs, nonfiction, and fiction.
  • Speaking of goals, we FINALLY painted our living room on Monday (which was Labor Day). We also ripped up the carpet, re-arranged the furniture, and hung new curtains. Our bodies are physically paying for this because we are oldish and brokenish (from doing marathon shit like this too much).
  • Speaking of marathons, we signed up for two 5Ks: a Halloween one on October 30th and a Rocky-themed one on November 12th. We might do another one on November 5th too because we are crazy.
  • Speaking of crazy, I just got ordained to be a minister. Everyone please hit me up with your officiant needs.
  • This one doesn’t have a lead-in: I want to take continuing education illustration classes at SVA and build up an art portfolio to try to apply to a BFA program next fall. I don’t want to go somewhere MAJOR like SVA, more like Montclair State University. Something inexpensive and close.
  • Speaking of goals (that was a weak lead-in), I read this article about “The Rule of Four” when it comes to work/life balance. You’re supposed to determine four building blocks for your focus at any time. From the article: “For example, you might choose work, exercise, family, and a hobby you’re passionate about as your areas of focus.”  They say that these blocks should be “four concrete, tangible things in my life that make me feel happy, that make me feel like myself, that I devote time and energy to, and that I am actively constructing.” Interesting! I have actually been thinking about this a lot and I think (kneejerk) that mine for the rest of 2016 are: Personal Life, Work, Reading, and Exercise.

Here are some pictures of Swirlie for what ails ye:

Upstate Fun

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Swirlies waiting for me at the trailer to come back from “the area”.

We went Upstate this weekend, FINALLY. We went a few times in May and then not at all in June or July which is crazy. We were just too busy for those two months that we didn’t even have one weekend to spare and the weekends we did have free, we were so dead tired that we couldn’t be bothered.

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Swirls looking like a g-d angel.

We came up on Friday night and it was so hot that we had to turn on the air conditioner (something that we’ve never done before). We drank beer and played Uno until we were both dying to go to bed. I slept until almost 11am the next morning which is something that I never do (or if I do, it’s sosososososososo rare).

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The River and Swirls

On Saturday, we read a lot. I also started a paint by numbers which is sooooo massive and intricate. I should really take a picture of it. It’s mesmerizing to do and really, when I sat down to do it, I didn’t intend on starting. I just wanted to see what it looked like out of the box. Instead, I started painting it and would not stop for what felt like hours. We also had to put on the AC on Saturday because it was 90+. Eventually, I tore myself away and we went to the pool which felt so good. After the pool, we had a chipwich ice cream and then showered. Oh AND as we were in the shower area, two women just barged in! Ugh, rude. When we came back to the site, Kristyn built a fire and it was huge because my Dad added all manor of kindling to it. See below. When we went inside, Kristyn read and I painted while watching the Facts of Life which was so soothing.

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OMG fire.

On Sunday, I woke up at 10am. We made breakfast and then just hung around reading and painting all day. Then Kristyn wanted to go into the river so we did that. We were in the river for such a long time. It felt so good though. It was much warmer than it normally is. It was still cold but not like bone chilling cold. I actually ended up submerging myself for a long time. Kristyn actually submerged herself to her shoulders which is huge for her. I was really proud of her for doing that. Shirley had a good time in the water too. She doesn’t love how cold it is but I think she has fun playing it in anyway.

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Wink and Swirls hangin by the water.

After we got out of the river, we made ourselves burgers and then I took most of these pictures with Shirley in the grass and of the river, etc. We saw a huge deer across the bank. We’ve seen a lot this weekend, actually. A momma and a baby deer walked across the river on Saturday night and looked at Kristyn, haha.

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Just a pretty picture of the water. We REALLY went in for a long time.

After we ate, we went up to the pool and swam for a while. Kristyn let me read and swim in the pool. I’m reading Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson. Then we bought some Neversink t-shirts, ate an ice cream, showered (sans visitors) and drove back to to the campsite.

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Then we went to the pool before going over to shower.

We did a quick cleanup of the trailer while waiting for our coffee to boil. Once we had our coffee, we sat in chairs on the deck drinking it and reading until we were done. Then we got up, finished cleaning up and hit the road around 8:30pm. The seat ripped out of my pants when we were throwing away the trash. It’s truly a fitting end that these pants should rip doing the final thing we do before leaving the campground. These sturdy pants that have lasted me for like five years. I’m gonna miss you, boo.

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The Sahara as we were leaving.

We didn’t get home until 10:30 at night. We ate cereal and then put our damn selves to bed. Morning came too soon but I feel so relaxed. Time to start ma’ day!

Hullo there!

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Us guys

I haven’t written here in a while because I’ve been distracted by SO MANY THINGS. I was going to post a bunch of pictures here of the things we’ve done recently but there are so many that I want to handle with care and not just blorp them onto the page. So what I’ll give you is a picture of me and Kristyn accidentally both wearing Golden Girls t-shirts out and about one day recently. It caused quite a stir in Dunkin Donuts with the cashier and a table of senior citizens sitting next to us. We got very good feedback but a bit of profound confusion. I get it gals.

My life has been, as they say, “mad chaotic” as of late. Today will be my first day back in the office since two weeks ago. I’ve been working all this time; just not there. I’m actually glad to go back to a normal schedule. I had wanted that to start with me today but I overestimated my ability to get up early and GTFO. I slept a little late which means that I can’t do all the things before work that I normally do but I think I want to get some dancing in because that will make me feel better. I was on a good schedule with dancing before work. I let it get sidelined and that was that for that. I just have to get back to that in the marnin and I’ll feel great. Okay, will go do that now. BYE!

Independence Day

July 4th Weekend 1

Kristyn and Baby Shirley hugging in the yard on Saturday.

This weekend was the weirdest Fourth of July weekend I’ve had in a while. We had intended on going upstate but at the end of last week, we really didn’t feel like packing up and driving all the way up there. Instead, it seemed really enticing to use that nervous energy to “do us” by staying home, reading, relaxing, fixing up the apartment, and playing with the animals. We had intended to paint the living room but we kept pushing that off until it was crystal clear to us that neither of us had any intention of actually painting that damn room. What we did do, however, was re-organize the “dining room” so now it is an “art studio and gym”. Basically, we moved all our art supplies, “how-to” books, and graphic novels (for inspiration) to the dining room hutch. The stuff that was on the hutch got put into a box OR re-distributed to the study. Basically, we just re-allocated that space for something useful. I’ve been using that room as a dumping ground for all my stupid clothes. I think we’ve eaten at that table a grand total of one time since we’ve had it. I’m excited to be able to use it for art.

July 4th weekend 2

Kristyn holding Monster and Shirley against their will with love but everyone’s also sort of into it.

This was such a relaxing weekend though. Part of me is regretful that we didn’t go upstate. I’m absolutely aching to do up there and relax. However, I know that had we gone, it would have been awesome and I would have been so glad that we went BUT we would’ve had so much work to do ahead of it and after it that it would have partially ruined my week. I have a long, weird week ahead of me. The next one is even tougher. I am starting to realize that when I know I’m going to have a tough week (let alone two), it’s necessary for me to be a little gentle with myself around that week. This should be common sense but I have a tendency to be like “GO GO GO” and then I tire myself the hell out. And if I’m not like that, Kristyn is. In short, we’re crazy.

I read from a bunch of books this weekend. I finished one; Lucy Knisley’s Make Yourself Happy. I started a new blog and social media presence to go with it. It’s focused on a subject that I want to learn more about. I won’t share it for now because I don’t want to have these blogs linked up although they kind of are because I’m writing them with the same alias like an idiot. I also slept in all weekend and took a day nap on Saturday and Sunday. I ate ice cream, pizza, and Chinese food. I watched the entirety of Girls, season 5. I watched almost all of Veep, season 4 (even though I realized later that I’d already watched this season). We watched some Bob’s Burgers and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I crocheted part of a blanket that’s been a work in progress for like two summers now. Kristyn drew a picture of Shirley and I drew one of Monster. Both of these will be turned into paintings. I researched schools and maybe came up with a new, exciting plan for myself. I exercised, cleaned, re-organized, and chilled. We also watched our town’s fireworks display from our kitchen window while marching in place to get our FitBit steps. Oh AND, we drank a lot of Captain Morgan Coconut Rum with Black Cherry Schwepp’s seltzer. I even took some pictures with the DSLR, which I haven’t done on a long time. They are “before” pictures of the living room. Once we repaint and redo that room, I’ll share them. Other than that, I’m a weirdo who didn’t even take one selfie during the entire weekend. The pictures I attached above are really the only ones that show our weekend. It was literally that chill.

Okay, gotta GTFO.

Art School Flunkie

Art School Archetypes

Image from here.

Guys, back when I was a wee lassie just out of high school, I decided to go to art school. Well, really, I made a confused stab at art school by attending a local junior college with a subpar reputation and an awesome art department. I decided I hated getting feedback on art (duh?) so I quit the program and basically stopped doing art forever which is…the complete opposite of what I ought to have done. I mean, it was the Clinton era. When we graduated from high school in 97 the actual advice we got was to “do what you love and the money will follow”. Can you imagine the collective brain fart cloud that we were all standing in for adult professionals to give that advice to children? But, that’s how the times were, “do what you love and the money will follow”. We had no reason to think that the only way you could make a thin nickel was to get a PhD in Biochemistry so you can be some Managing Editor’s assistant. But? Now we know.

This is all to say that I am considering going back to art school. It’s just devil-may-care and irresponsible enough to be funsies. I keep thinking that I need to have my company’s permission to go after a degree; the logic being that I only want to do a degree that they’ll pay for. This is solid logic, right? However, what if I’m not looking for a JOB? What if I’m just looking for something that’s pleasing to my soul? What if I’m looking to see what doors may open that I don’t even realized are closed to me right now? What if this degree just scratches an itch in my soul so that my soul doesn’t get sucked out by corporate America? (I work in a great company that I love but working for the man is always going to be a little soul sucking just because it is.)

I’d have to do it part time and I’d need to be a mix of “The Feminist”, “The Older Lady”, “The Mother” (although I’m not one), or “The Outsider”. Whatever. The fun thing about going to art school as “The Olde One” is that I don’t have to be pulled into whatever type of art school drama nonsense that exists. I’d be an invisible “area” that the other students wouldn’t bother much with. I could do what I came to do and GTFO without feeling the pressure to socialize. That kind of sounds sad and anti-social but I know me preeeeetty preeeetty well.

This may not even happen because it really looks unlikely that I’d be able to attend any local art school part-time or out of pocket. Because I live near NYC, I have an embarrassment of awesome art schools near me but (assuming I could get in), they are so expensive and require a full-time level of participation and that counts me out. I sent a note to my alma mater to see what they’d think about it and who knows? *Fingers crossed*

Meditate, Exercise, and Read

Radiant2Swords.jpg

II of Swords. Image from here.

Yesterday, I pulled some tarot cards and the message I got was basically, “If you open your heart, a mentor will appear.” Last night, I ended up unexpectedly going to a local “metaphysical” shop that we like to visit sometimes. I ended up talking to the owner for a while and while I am not trying to make her into my mentor, she and I had a great conversation that guided me towards some things I’ve been looking for. I bought the Radiant Rider-Waite tarot deck while I was there and pulled some cards this morning. The end card told me to “meditate, exercise, and read” which is coincidentally what I’ve decided to focus on lately.

I have been searching for balance and contentment a lot lately. To this end, I’ve been trying to meditate and searching for things that will give me peace and calm. My relationship with religion is pretty much like everyone else’s. I grew up with a religion that was passed down to me by my family but for many reasons, it wasn’t for me (Catholicism). I am really interested in religion but moreso from a historical and objective viewpoint. I respect everyone’s beliefs because the truth is that none of us know for sure what the truth is. I envy people who have that kind of structure in their life. My mother always tells me that I’ll “be back” but I don’t think I will; unless it’s to join a church run by LGBTQ priests who are women, I can’t see it. (Even then, I’d definitely attend a mass for fun and interest but I don’t think it would draw me to it but who knows.)

I’ve always been interested in Paganism and Wicca. Paganism, especially, interests me. I know that Wicca is under the umbrella of Paganism. Still, there seems to be a fussiness to Wicca that I don’t know if I could get into in my daily life. Honestly, I don’t know enough about it yet to truly comment so don’t hold me to that statement. I’m still learning about both subjects and have barely scraped the surface.

Anyway, religion was a subject that I kept pursuing in college whenever possible. I’ve always been interested in spirituality and I felt compelled to try to understand more about various religions as a way to understand more about humanity. Basically, the thread the pulled through all those classes was that it’s all one religion with various interpretations. That realization was very comforting to me and it made me realize that you can boil all religion down to the golden rule AND that all religious figureheads are basically archetypes of complicated thoughts, emotions, personality types, and situations. So fascinating.

WHICH brings me to the tarot. The tarot has always interested me. First, it interested me because I literally thought it could divine the future. Then it bored me because I felt like any psychic worth her salt shouldn’t need cards to tell her what I’m thinking. Then I realized that both of these ideas were silly. I started learning how to read them years ago for fun but I never took it seriously and I certainly didn’t bother to try to learn anything about it. Last year, a friend told me he used them for writing prompts and I thought that was a great idea. Since I’ve been doing it though, I’ve found it to be a very satisfying almost meditative tool. Basically, at this point, I feel like they’re just sort of a structure to think about the issues going on in your life from different viewpoints. When you shuffle, you think of a question. When you pull the cards and lay them into position, you are attaching meaning to where they’re laid. When you flip the card over, you’re interpreting the card and its position in relation to the question you asked. This gives you clarity because you’re forced to look at the question you asked in relation to the cards you pulled. I’ve found that this practice has helped me consider my roles, my work, my relationships, and my issues in new ways. It’s been pretty interesting. The other thing that interest me in the tarot is what an old and secret tradition it is. Apparently, no one for sure knows where it originated although there are some theories. The bottom line is that it has been inspiring me and I’m just going to let it.