Creating the things. I like to create things. Sadly, sometimes I create half-finished or un-finished things, more than complete things.
I even have a t-shirt that reads Weapons of Mass Creation (I wore it yesterday in fact) that shows things like a fountain pen, paint brush, pencil, crochet hook and knitting needles.
Sometimes, figuring out and focusing on the way that I want to create/make art/make things in the moment I’m feeling like making a thing is more challenging than I’d like. Is it necessary to focus on just 1 or 2? To improve my skill level, I’d have to say yes. I’m not going to magically be able to draw technically well without practice. Or to paint well without practice. Or to have consistently good cookies or pie or dinner without practice. To just enjoy whatever I’m making though – maybe/maybe not? Sometimes, just the act of crocheting or writing can be satisfying.
Sketching / Writing / Crochet / Baking / Cooking
I enjoy fiddling about with all those things.
I’ve managed about half the words for a successful NaNoWriMo (and am planning on participating again next month). I’ve participated in the Camp NaNoWriMo’s and … well, not necessarily succeeded but have definitely increased word count, which is a sort of success, because of the Camp’s relaxed rules.
I sketch as the mood strikes me. In fact, on my drive home this morning from my sister’s house, I decided that instead of buying a birthday card and wrapping supplies for my godson’s birthday gift (already purchased), I’d use comics and draw him a thematically appropriate card. I got him a tackle box for fishing. He’s just getting into it, and really excited. So I googled an image of a trout, and found a rainbow trout that looked simple enough for me to recreate in colored pencil. It came out pretty darn well. Sometimes, that happens. Sometimes it does. I want desperately to draw and no topic comes to mind.
I haven’t crocheted in a while. I should. We’re getting to the right season for it again. So maybe, soon.
And of course I cook several times a week, even if I’m not always baking. Luckily, cooking and baking are basically just chemistry with instructions; once you have a basic idea for how things interact with each other, you’re set. There’s a baking school starting up north that I’d really love to attend. I hope it does well. I’d like it to succeed so that I can try to attend some semester in the future.
But the thing is, they’re all hobbies. They aren’t things I do to earn a living. I like dabbling here and there. But I do sort of wish I could improve more quickly. (And I haven’t even addressed things like musical instruments or coding, which I haven’t truly touched in years.) But again, without focusing…
So, am I thinking too hard about focusing? Is it just finding something to whine about?
Is the fact that I’m writing about it to explore the idea just an expression of the easiest to explore or is it a sign I should focus on writing?
Any or all answers are probably true.
I wonder how people think of me? Do they think of me as an artist or consumer? Depending on which, what kind of artist/consumer?
Some of this triggered by Patreon. Some is just standard existential questions that wander through my brain in passing. Maybe my brain just can’t stand a quiet moment and feels compelled to mutter at me in the brief ones I have. Anyone else have those moments?
I picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition) recently, and finally got around to reading it Tuesday night. According to Amazon it’s 320 pages, and I sort of remember that, but some of that is table of contents and biographies and cast and such.
Because, when it comes down to it, it’s a script you know.
Scripts read somewhat differently than novels, although not a lot. To be honest with you, once I’m a handful of pages into either my mind’s eye takes over and it all sort of flows with words and voices and images of the setting and they feel about the same, except scripts go a teeny bit faster. I read quickly anyway, but normally 320 pages would probably have taken me closer to 5 or 6 hours, and it did not take me nearly that long.
I enjoyed it. I had seen some things on the internet (spoilers) about specific people missing from the book and how that was important/horrible/weird, but in one case specifically they aren’t “missing” they’re just … off-stage. And the characters on-stage react to their existence very much as if they’re part of the world, and in fact, important there. In a play, this is considered normal and is a useful device. In a book, it’s somehow less common (although honestly still happens, but I think people don’t think about it with characters who once had speaking parts and somehow don’t now in this book).
I got to thinking about it though, and I think I’ve been reading scripts since I was either 5 or 6 years old. That I can remember, at least. Mom and Dad had the collected works of Shakespeare in the house, of course, but Daddy had shelves of scripts. I still own some, in fact. I was in an original children’s play as a very small child. And in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as an older child. And Murder in the Cathedral as a teenager. Not to mention plays for school, like Lilies in the Field and others I can’t currently recall. I didn’t particularly like being up on stage, in front of people, but I liked playing a part. And I really loved helping with set creation and lighting and talking about costuming choices and blocking; so I enjoyed reading scene direction.
All of that meant that I have very clear ideas and opinions about what the characters in The Cursed Child look like. And how some of the story line would force some interesting costume changes. (I’m particularly fond of Hermione and Ron in one bit, I’d love to see that live and interpreted on stage!) I have a feeling for where they’d be on stage, and where they were in the universe of Harry Potter. It felt as fleshed out, in many ways, as the books. Perhaps this worked because I’m already familiar with the universe? I think it must be that, to a large degree.
It does make me miss Mom and Dad more, though. I can’t recall if Daddy liked the Harry Potter universe or not. He didn’t read long form for fun all that often, although it did sometimes happen. But he watched a pretty wide variety of television and movies and they would have been within the realm of things he’d be interested in. Mom I know loved the books and movies well enough that she had a favorite line.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
She’d hand written it, copying out of the book, and kept it on her desk from having fallen in love with it until she died. And I think she’d have been very interested in this installment. Plus, I could have talked to them about the mechanics of reading the different formats and how that feels in your own head, which would have been really good. Most of the time, when I miss my parents, it has less to do with wanting them to fix a thing, or know about an event, and more to do with wanting to talk with them about small daily things and things that made me think of them, and of course, to get hugs and just see them with my eyes again.
I think Rowling understands those feelings so much. And in the end, she explores it quite well in this book. I’ve already lent my copy out to a co-worker, who expressed an interest after she discovered I’d read it the night before. I really hope she enjoys it.
I am tired.
I am tired of being doubted, repeatedly enough that it feels like always.
I am tired of micro-aggressions that nick and crackle at my patience and soul.
I am tired of half-truths and secreted things that breed more negativity.
I am tired.
I read a story about Buddha in the last day that was wonderful. He was being abused by an angry man who thought he didn’t have the right to teach. Buddha asked, “If you give me a gift, and I refuse to take it, who does it belong to?” And the angry man said, “I do. I bought it.” And the Buddha said that the anger was like that. If he didn’t accept it unto himself, it simply turned on the giver.
I liked this, because it’s true. But it also means that the anger feeds and increases on itself. And that part wasn’t mentioned. It’s wonderful that the Buddha can let go and not internalize anger and hatred. And it’s definitely something to aspire to.
But it’s not something that most people can do. That’s why the Buddha, Jesus, and others who have preached only love are so special. It’s hard to do.
Because really, anger isn’t inherently bad, any more than sorrow is inherently bad. When they feed, when they don’t have a healthy outlet and become unthinking tangles of so much frustration and deep depression that lash out like a wounded animal when prodded, bad results. Often, things occur that are not even the things the tangle-bearer would have dreamed of intending.
And that more than anything else, makes me so tired.
There are various articles on the internet that suggest the best thing to do mid-afternoon, when you’re feeling slightly sleepy after lunch and run down after a busy morning working, is to take a power nap of 15 to 20 minutes.
I hate those articles so very much.
Some are better than others, and admit that it’s an “average” among sleep studies. Some of the sleep studies are tiny by research standards.
For me, 15 to 20 minutes is usually not enough time to actually fall asleep. If I’m extremely lucky, I will have just dozed off at 20 minutes. Usually it’s more like 30 minutes.
So, I try not to take naps. If I’m very tired, and it’s no where near bedtime, I might go ahead and lie down; but I do so knowing that I’m probably going to foul up my sleep schedule. I seem to sleep in 3 hour increments. If I’m, again, very lucky, I might manage a “short” 90 minutes, but that’s rare.
I’m not sure what exactly has changed, as I’ve aged.
I have some theories.
I know my sleep patterns took a large hit around the time I was separating and getting divorced from my first husband and my father dying of lung cancer. I don’t recall if it ever really recovered, because I moved away for a year to a different time zone, and never really slept well there either. (Except for when I was very sick with what was probably the flu.) On the other hand, since moving back to Oregon, I’m relatively certain there was a stretch where I slept… somewhat normally for me. And then again, several years later, when my mother had come to live nearby and became sick, I think I regained the habit of cat-napping to keep aware of potential need.
I think this last time, I never really got out of the habit. Even now, I tend to sleep in chunks. I drift off sometimes when my husband does, more often later, and then wake up in roughly 3 hours. On good nights, I might manage 4 hours… but almost always, I’m awakened at 4:30am at the latest by the cats.
That’s first breakfast time, you see. Well, it’s main breakfast, as only one cat is hobbit-like enough to require second breakfast. So after they’ve been fed, if it’s a work day, I go back to bed for another two and a half hours. Just before I leave for the office, the one cat gets his second breakfast. Sometimes he lets our girl have some.
It’s evenings when I often shoot myself in the foot. I’ll get home exhausted, and lie down knowing that it won’t be just a few minutes. I was surprised – the other night, I ended up perhaps only sleeping two and a half hours, and then, although I wasn’t horribly sleepy, I did manage to fall asleep within a couple hours of bedtime, which made the morning much less painful.
At this stage of things, I’m not entirely sure how to fix it. “Ignoring” the cats doesn’t work. Slight sounds I might once have slept through, when younger, now wake me and require acknowledging and identifying before I can roll over and attempt sleep again. And of course, dreams often get in the way, as I dream nightly – I just don’t always remember the dreams later.
I’m not a person who looks back with nostalgia to school years, in general. But that age… where I could sleep without regard for responsibility? Oh, I do miss that!
I have a Facebook account. A lot of people do, anymore. It hung on better than MySpace and continues to adapt and suck in other websites and spin them and twist them into its own useful web. If I allowed it to, I could cross-post this blog there. Sometimes, I rather hate Facebook. Somehow, the newsfeed has shifted over the years to become a graffiti wall on a college campus. People post funny comics, neat flyers about music and art shows coming up, and diatribes about whatever they like. And sometimes they yell at each other. It’s both anonymous, because you aren’t actually face to face, and not. I keep threatening to back off and just use it as a way of keeping up with distant relatives and then something will happen and I get sucked back in. Sometimes, there are funny things there, you see. Sometimes there are things that make me think.
And sometimes there are the rabbit holes. Someone posted a picture of a newspaper clipping, unattributed, with the in-set quote: “People need art in their houses. They don’t need Bed Bath and Beyond dentist-office art. They need weird stuff.” Ezra Croft, art show producer And I thought, well, who is Ezra Croft? What art show? And of course, I liked the photo that was shared by my friend, because really, I agree. Although I do have some Bed Bath and Beyond dentist-office stuff, because sometimes that’s just weird and cool too.
In our home, we have photographs. Yes, family photographs, but also photographs my dad took and had blown up of the sun setting through the field and trees, and a street lamp in the fog through one of the bois d’arc trees. They’re a matched pair, and I have the vertical set. Another sister has the horizontal set. He couldn’t decide which print he liked better you see. I display them both because he took them, and because I like them.
We have prints. Upstairs in the guest room I have prints of winged cats and butterfly winged dragons. I have beautiful anthropomorphic ladies my talented friend created. I have a small print on the nightstand of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. I have a print by Ursula Vernon that came with her book Digger that I helped support with Kickstarter. Downstairs I have prints of Neil Gaiman quotes, gifts, illustrated by David Mack and Chris Riddell. I have a painting of a silo, hay barn and a small house that my father created years ago. I have metallic and a wooden Kokopelli figures, piping back to back around a corner from each other. I have wind chimes that only sing when the cats tap their pendants, because they’re inside and never feel the breeze. I have a blown glass dragon, a painted paper rhino and a panther, and a piece of Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass. On the stairwell a piece of set from a play hangs on the wall, and in the bathroom a self-portrait of my father as a clown. In my mother’s glass secretary cabinet there are small knick-knacks of a wide variety; from an onyx Madonna to an Under Milkwood miniature to a small weyr of dragons. And rocks. There are of course rocks and sea shells scattered about the house. And I haven’t even gotten to the things with words on that hang in the house, be they in English or languages I don’t read. Scrolls found and kept because they were lovely.
For me, it’s all unique art, but I’m not sure any of it is weird, you see. Because it all means something to me. If you ask me why I have it, invariably the answer is because it was beautiful, and I wanted it. Or some pieces, simply because “my parents had it in their home, and I loved them… and it.” Like the portrait of my parents kissing under a bridge in Pittsburgh, near Three Rivers, framed perfectly, that my uncle took and someone had blown up and framed. Or the prayer that was framed, that was found in a church, that was given to my mother, and the words are lovely, even if I no longer feel particularly Catholic.
I was thinking about these, and others not mentioned, when I stumbled back over the quote and tracked it down. It was in the San Francisco Chronicle, an article written just the 28th of July, about Ezra Croft, who had an art show dedicated to Bill Murray, the comedian. Mostly, it appears to be homages to the actor. The fun thing is, the quote from Mr. Croft? When asked where his day job is? It’s Bed Bath and Beyond. What I took away from the article was that what he really wanted was art to be about connection. Well, he wanted the city’s connection and quirkiness to be back. And maybe, just a little bit, when we see a Peanuts cartoon strip with Lucy’s Psychiatry Booth reimagined as Cthulu’s Psychological Trauma Booth, or other random things on Facebook, some of that connection occurs and keeps some of us there longer.
Then again, for me, art has always been about connection. So perhaps, my art is and always has been just a little bit weird, by those standards.
I’m very okay with that. I like the comfort that weirdness brings.
Actually, my current problem is that the title of this blog doesn’t feel quite right. I started to put the title as something like “On Writing” (nope, Stephen King book), “The Problem With Writing” (nope, ’cause I’m not talking about actual writing), to something like “not-writing” or “pre-writing” to what I have now.
I’m specifically talking about the problem with thinking while showering, or driving, or simply being away from being able to safely write down a concept that I then proceed to draft in my head, believing every time that I will surely remember this later. When I’m at a computer. When I have time to actually flesh it out and write up a blog.
I’m pretty sure it happens a few times a day, to be honest. The last one today was while I was walking back from the mail box. We actually had mail. I was thinking about how ridiculously exhausted I suddenly was, and yet this was an awesome idea. I’d like to say if I’d had my phone on me I would have opened one of many apps and jotted myself a quick note, but honestly I probably wouldn’t have. I don’t usually. By the time I got back to the house and tidied up a few things before giving in to a nap, the idea of a blog had completely slipped my head.
There’s an author I like who has a good web presence, John Scalzi. He wrote a book (which became a series) called Old Man’s War. In it, there are computers implanted in human’s brains that they learn how to access, draft quick notes to each other, retain “photos” that are snapshots of things they’ve seen, and so on. I have to admit that one of the things I most like about that computer is the idea of getting ideas directly into a file to later access via terminal and clean up with my fingers. I think I’d still want to actually write, you see. Maybe even with a pen, although at that stage, maybe not a pen. But the idea of cleaning up by hand and writing additional new items into a document definitely appeals to me. And maybe, just maybe, I would stop forgetting my ideas of things to blog about.
On that same topic, I also just recently downloaded the new Scrivener for iOS (specifically my iPad). I still need to set it up, but it promises that it will sync with the desktop version, which excites me. The iPad and keyboard I have are not a perfect set up, but they’re much lighter and very easy to work with the few times I’ve carried them around. It helps that this particular iPad has data access, and not just wifi. So far, it’s been most convenient when traveling, as a very mini laptop alternative. So in this case, it will be the same idea but even for daily work travel.
I think about writing a lot, you see. And I read a decent amount. I’m hesitant to say a lot, because I don’t read nearly the content that I have in the past. On the other hand, on a recent trip I started (and finished) a 500+ page novel. To me, it didn’t seem huge. Yes, that’s on the large side for this author, but it’s certainly not the largest book I’ve carried around with me to read. (And it was an actual book in this case, although I had access to a variety of Kindle and iBook ebooks on my iPad and phone, of course.) And yet, there was amazement in the eyes of at least two of my fellow travelers and a raised eyebrow or two. At the time they were asking about it, I was roughly 400 pages in. I suspect they were also reacting to seeing me read when I hadn’t read in front of them for the majority of the trip. I think perhaps two people beside by husband even realized I’d brought a book for down times.
Like most people who aren’t published authors in one way or another, I think I’m not really a writer. Sure, I blog. Sure, I love words. Sure, I read a lot and own more books than some people believe are necessary. (Which I frankly don’t understand. What’s necessary got to do with anything? I enjoy books and the ones I keep have stories I’m willing to read repeatedly. My brain and mental health are happier to have those stories, so I suppose I could argue they’re necessary for me but still. Why worry about if something is necessary?) But I still doubt that I’ve any sort of right to claim the descriptor of writer.
I’ve never managed 50,000 words in November. I might have a chance of completing this year’s CampNaNo this month, but the April event I failed. I’m hard on myself and even knowing that, I am still harder and meaner to myself than I would be to any of my friends.
So knowing I’ve had at least two or three solid blog themes I’ve forgotten this week alone is extremely frustrating. The idea that tech is slowly advancing toward a goal that I’ve only read about in a science fiction novel written more than 10 years ago (and Asimov and others have alluded to, although I don’t remember as crisply, decades ago), is very exciting.
I just hope I can learn to take advantage of it!
Sometimes, like most people who lost their parents too young, I wish they were still around.
For me, it’s usually when a niece or my nephew does something awesome. Or just plain exists. My youngest niece occasionally takes my breath away in pictures my sister takes, where a gesture or a knowing side-eye smirk at the camera or just a sweet smile reminds me so much of my mother. The fact that both of the girls are all about the glitter and pink would amuse the heck out of mom, as well. None of us were particularly girly as kids. I guess it skips a generation. Sometimes my nephew does sweet things that reminds me of our dad, and then I want both parents to be able to see. Dad’s been gone longer, and it takes different things to make me want to show him things. More often it’s artistic or light (the sunset, the sunrise, the way light is breaking through clouds and bouncing back off water to bounce again like a giant soft fill) or just landscaping. Sometimes I draw something well enough I just wish I could share.
Or there’s a movie I want them to see. Or a musical taking the world by storm. Or a game. Or any number of things really. Sometimes I just want to ask “Hey, how did you make this dish” or “You know, I think Sister would love to touch base with you about something, but she’s probably been too busy to call” or “come visit! I want you to meet my sweetheart so much”.
Mom’s birthday is tomorrow. She would have been 70. A grandmother of 3 smart and beautiful kiddos. There are new fur-babies in our lives and we’ve lost some she knew and cared about. I’ve gotten re-married; and she would be so pleased, relieved and content to know that. At least she got to know him. We’re looking at buying a house, before the year is up. She’d be so happy we’ve been able to save. She’d be happy knowing that she’s helped make that possible. She’d be totally clueless about my work, and she’d find it completely hilarious (as do I) that I mostly work in accounting when I detest math in general as annoying and nonsensical. She’d be happy that my sweetie’s work situation has gone back to a field he prefers and that he’s doing well in it.
There would be things she’d worry about, because of course she’d worry. She’s a mom. Same for dad.
For now, I’m going to focus on hoping she’s somehow aware of the good things coming up and happening. Happy birthday, a little early, mom. I love you.