|You Are 25% Left Brained, 75% Right Brained|
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.
The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.
August 2006 Archives
I thought I would be so good at this. I thought, "no problem, I have always been pretty independent. I like a degree of change now and then, and after all it is the natural way of things."
I was so wrong.
Being a work at home mom has always had huge advantages too.
Having a super close relationship with my son has always been such a wonderful thing. Talking, sharing ideas-there was very few things we did not talk about.
But that has made this so much harder.
Thankfully, he called yesterday. I would probably be having a major meltdown if he hadn't. And I am not going to call him. I made that clear on the phone that if he needed us in any way, we were here, but he had to be the one to initiate.
Even though I would love to talk him everyday.
He has stuff to do, and a new life to forge. This is his beginning of being on his own. Self discovery and making choices without me is part of it. He is focused on new tasks, new people, and new ideas.
And I am excited for him.
But it is true what they say that it is harder being the one left behind.
I miss him so much.
It is interesting how it hit. At about four o clock on monday I had a sudden, profound sense of loss. Then as yesterday went by I had to force myself multiple times not to think about it but had a huge sense of relief when he called.
And today I am just so sad. And it hasn't even been a week. I guess this is the flip-side of being so close.
I think of my own mother having to let go, because when I went to college I never looked back.
Mom, how did you ever do this with me?
I am forty one years old and I have a son in college. And although I have prepared in all sorts of tangible ways with oodles of work to do...
It is still not enough.
It seems sort of unfair that the reward for doing a great job as a parent is that your child does not need you like before. True, you will always be a parent, but things are different. The role has fundamentally changed, and the mark of success is separation. It is healthy.
But it is painful.
So this moment has me facing some feelings that I guess I thought would skip right by me. And it isn't fun. It is such a mixed bag of being grateful for the success and being in mourning for the fruit of it.
One day at a time.
Just read an interesting stat on the MICA website about this year's stellar freshmen class...
It is 71 percent female.
do the math.
Monday morning. The hectic weekend is over and Bryan is at work. The house is very quiet. The absence of Daniel has struck me in a few ways that I didn't expect. The rhythm that was everyday is somehow missing a beat. I am not feeling really emotional yet, it is just the noticing of little things. Like expecting him to come up the stairs last night for his evening ice cream (another anderson ritual that had emerged over the years-the guys having ice cream before bed). Or having dinner at home last night without that third person at the table. This morning I thought I heard him in the bathroom and realizing (of course) that it was actually Bryan.
weird little things. Like your mind expects something and so it fills in the gaps.
I was going to clean his room today. It is a disaster after packing the things he needed and leaving the things he didn't... all over the floor. But in our remodel mode yesterday we purchased tile and bath fixtures and his room seemed like the perfect place to put the stuff.
So there is a toilet in the middle of his room.
Which makes the cleaning seem sort of pointless.
And standing in that room feels...
It doesn't look all that different. The bed is the same, the rug is still there, a bunch of Daniel's stuff is strewn around making it seem sort of like he is there. But there is enough of his stuff that is missing that it feels wrong, off-kilter somehow.
This will take some getting used to.
What do you do when your only child moves out?
You demolish his bathroom.
Okay, it is not like we need another project right now. The backyard is totally torn apart and there are retaining walls to build, but for some reason we couldn't resist starting on a bathroom remodel. The bathroom that was Daniel's has never been redone and it is in a scary condition. We have always wanted to fix it. And we have company coming. So now seemed like a good time. Over coffee Bryan and I discussed the options. We began with not changing the wall tile and just tiling the floor, resurfacing the tub and painting. No big deal. By the end of the day we were here.
Bryan in full demo mode.
What can I say?
The old bluish tile was forcing us into a design corner and in the end it had to go. I love to tile anyway.
And it won't hurt to have some serious projects going the next few weeks while adjusting to the quiet house.
It is interesting that I find myself, today, sitting alone in a hip little cafe in Baltimore with my laptop, sipping on a very tasty iced mint mocha and typing my thoughts about yesterday's events.
When I opened my laptop this is the "error" that I got...
Ironic that even our wireless network at home had us connected as a family and so that error seems all the more an appropriate reminder of the change that took place yesterday.
First off, I am not in baltimore to spy on our son, but interestingly enough had an errand tor Bryan. He is busy with that as I sit here...
relishing the mint mocha, and a new sense of freedom.
but about yesterday.
It started out with the packing up of the trusty convertible that has hauled anything from plywood to video equipment. Today it would move my son. After packing and repacking (Bryan is a master packer in these situations) we hit the road toward Daniel's new home. Picking up some fast food, we drove to baltimore chatting about various things, nothing major. I am always anxious at moments like this. I always fear that something won't be as expected, or there will be some unforseen difficulty. And in this case first impressions are SO big. What if there is a problem, what if Daniel's roomates are jerks, what if the room is too small, what if we left too late and it is a zoo with too many people and it is a bummer...?(It is amazing how many stupid little things a person can dwell on when stuck in a car.)As we got closer to the campus my fears began to be put to rest. There were MICA students holding friendly signs directing us where to go.
We parked, Daniel "checked-in" which consisted of getting a key and a packet of instructions for the next four days. We were ushered into a parking space, parked and grabbed the first boxes of stuff. Daniel is excited. The vibe of students that we see is excited.
Daniel's roomates have already been here and are in various stages of unpacking. All of them seemed pretty cool. Two graphic design majors, an environmental design major, and Daniel (general fine arts). Getting a sense of these guys was another fear put to rest for me. We met the parents, and us being the "local" offered our assistance if future needs arose for the guys. First impression, they all seem pretty compatable, Daniel connecting immediately with the guy from Turkey, discovering that they had favorite music groups in common.
We unpacked the stuff from the car and then Bryan and I went to the "parents only orientation", 11:00 am, leaving Daniel to do whatever.
Some of this "orientation" was a rehash of info we had heard before, but the new stuff was worth attendence and if there was any moments during the day where I felt emotional it was listening to the speal given by the vp of MICA. He talked about what a special class this was. That the administration and faculty had spent the summer pouring through portfolios and student bios in order to truly get to know this class, and they were excited about it. And he really did seem excited about what "this class" could do. Something that had sold me about the school was how each student is really looked at by the faculty and then positioned with a selected group of students and faculty to bring out the best in the student. This group then spends the first "foundational year" together. They are in the same classes and both teachers and students get to know each other really well. This creates an environment that although competitive in the beginning, later fosters a sense of trust and a unique learning environment emerges. As various assignments are produced, the students are also one another's evaluators.
Well, at this point I was feeling such pride and gratefulness, as a mom, this information just confirmed my original gut reaction to the place being perfect for Daniel. This place got it. This place fosteres a community dedicated to the creation of great art. To lay a solid foundation and then the "specialist will emerge". It is not the sink or swim mentality that seems to be the big deal in other places. They really care about the development of the person and wish to see the student succeed.
The orientation continued with advice for parents on what to expect in the next year and ways in which to encourage our students. And it concluded with ways to let go.
After this Bryan and I hustled back to find Daniel having lunch with three of his roomates.
server connection interrupted, daniel anderson...disconnect.
(This was a great indicator already that he was doing fine, having totally forgotten that we were going to have lunch.) Okay I have to admit that I had a split second of feeling a wee bit slighted, but thankfully that was corrected by the recognition that this was a really good sign. But the afternoon was set aside for parents and students to do last minute shopping and then say goodbye at six when student orientation began.
We still had alot to do.
See the school recommended that students don't bring desks until they have seen their room (some desks are just too big) and so, like so many other families, we had planned on taking the afternoon to make a run to ikea for all the other items that Daniel needed.
2:00. We have four hours.
This is when the "time nazi" comes out in me. I am feeling some anxiety because the desire is to get Daniel's room completely set up which means drive to ikea, buy the stuff, drive back, ASSEMBLE it all...
all before 6:00.
And the other curve ball was that although there is an ikea in baltimore, the one that is closest to our house (in college park 40 mins away) is actually closer. So we make the drive back, me VERY aware at this point that we may run out of time. We go down a list of all the needed items...
We make our selections and our purchases with the decision to stop back at the house for a table top that will work as a desktop (save 50 bucks) and a stop at Bryan's office for a rug of ours that will fit in Daniel's room (save 50-100 bucks). We knew that this trip would require driving back with the top down(to accomodate the oversized boxes), on the freeway. We pack up and start to drive.
It is 4:15. I am feeling a real sense of anxiety at this point. Not because in less than four hours we were going to say goodbye, but HOW in the world were we going to get all this done. Other people were in the same situation I was sure, but still...
Bless his heart, Daniel in the back seat with hair whipping in the wind never complained a bit.
So we are driving along and wouldn't you know it.
Traffic. bumper to bumper.
As we inched our way back to baltimore, I am calculating time and resisting the urge to get snappy. This is when I have a tendency to work backwards thinking through all the things we should have done differently to make things work more smoothly (completely counter productive unless you can use the information as a "lesson learned"). As we drive I am watching the clock and at some point I gave up on having his room perfect before we left to just getting him back in time for his orientation.
We arrive back at the apartment. 5:30.
Without too much discussion we launch into what needs to be done and unload the car lickety split. At least Daniel will make orientation. Now I am praying that the "say goodbye to parents" rule is not enforced and that Bryan and I can do the marathon assembly and set up.
6:00 pm.Daniel runs a brush through his hair and says, "see ya later", and I stop him and remind him that "we may not be here when you get back". So we say our goodbyes, hugs and he runs out the door. (good sign, he is totally excited) Bryan and I get to work. I start making the bed and putting stuff away while Bryan works his magic. He is a wizard with ikea assembly. As we both quietly work we comment on how great the roomates are, how cool the school is and such. Outside in the courtyard (where the orientation "kick off" is being held) we hear cheering. Sounds like fun.
The change starts to sink in.
server connection interrupted, daniel anderson...disconnect.
7:30 pm. Desk is assembled, chair and bookshelves assembled and now Bryan is stringing up some quartz lights. We hear the door.
Daniel pops back in, "I guess it's not goodbye yet," he says brightly. Just in time to tell dad where to put the lights. He seems pleased with his new room. Then there is a bang at the door and I almost dive into the closet, still paranoid about getting busted because we are not supposed to be there. Daniel goes to get the door.
Girls. I hear voices, female voices (more than one) asking if he is ready to come back down for the next part of "orientation". He politely says that he has some stuff that he still needs to put together in his room...
"Do you need some help"?
Bryan and I, overhearing this just look at each other.
Of course I am getting a huge kick out of this dialogue. Evesdropping from the other room I realize that, yes the girls were already zeroing in on him. And why wouldn't they. I had a moment of pride, confusion, and "ata boy".
server connection interrupted, daniel anderson...disconnect.
He politely told the girls that he would be down in a little while. We spend the next few minutes wrapping up. Now it is time to really say goodbye.
"We love you, we are so proud of you, you are going to have such a great time, be good...hugs. And he is out the door.
server connection interrupted, daniel anderson...disconnect.
As Bryan and I are walking to the car we see the stream of new freshmen walking down the street to their future, A herd of extremely gifted individuals embarking on the next part of their creative journey. From 45 countries and as many states,the group is turning the corner and Bryan spots Daniel just before he rounds the bend out of sight.
"Look, there he is, you can see his hair" (cuzs no girl even has hair like that). He is wearing it down (which he never does) another good sign...
spreading his wings. Go baby go.
server connection interrupted, daniel anderson...disconnect.
As we drove toward home we passed the big glass building (where the students had gone for the rest of their intro into college life) I felt a huge sense of excitement for my son. Yes I am so very proud, and I will spend the next few weeks probably feeling a little lonely, but for now I can't believe how blessed we are and how fortunate he is to go to such a wonderful place. I have a huge feeling of fulfillment as a mom, having played a part to get him here, and I am just SO excited for him. Total joy.
server connection interrupted, daniel anderson...disconnect.
I survived the day... even without shedding a tear.(yippee) but too tired to blog on the whole of it.
Here we go again.
This morning as I was bringing my coffee downstairs I heard it again.
but didn't he pack it already?
In a box, outside his closed door, in a stack of boxes...
beep, beep, beep.
Oh good grief.
Of course as I fish around for the new alarm clock in his neatly packed boxes,(as he sleeps) trying not to disturb too much, I realize how funny this is.
Tomorrow at this time we will be moving these boxes into his apartment. Thankfully, as I rummage through his stuff in search of the beeping sound I am not sad (or annoyed) but thinking how truly excited I am for him. And I am excited for myself too. Being a mother has been the most challenging, most rewarding, character altering and self defining part of what makes me who I am. When Daniel was three I wondered how in the world I could spend the next fifteen years of my life fully engaged in this role. So many other things in life are short lived. Jobs can change, people move to different cities, we are used to rapid fire change in our culture. But being a mom is a really long term deal. And it isn't the kind of thing that you can change your mind about. It is the most all encompassing role where you learn what being selfless really means.
I can see how after 18 years a person can feel a sense of loss. In fact I told Bryan that I think the emotional impact is probably similar to being let go from a job that you have held for 18 years. Your whole identity is tied to it, and your self esteem is fed by it. And you don't realize how much until you have to make the adjustment. The difference is, if you lose your job people tend to recognize it as a life altering event. Your kid going to college?...Not so much.
But there is an up side to being "unemployed".
• Sleeping in. All the years of sleep deprivation from early morning feedings to getting up at six am for high school, and everything in between, are done.
• Uninterrupted time. From having no private moment to yourself at toddlerhood (even in the bathroom) to being constantly "on call" for whatever little thing there is..."Mom, have you seen my"... mothers you know what I am talking about. Somehow god thought it fit to install a radar system upon pregnancy, that can find any lost object in the house and it is activated every time those words are spoken. And it works too! It is a natural wonder that moms can find anything in the space of a minute. (I wonder if that automatically shuts off now? hmmm).
• Making travel plans that don't revolve around the school calendar. Anyone who has ever traveled knows that peak season parallels when school is out. So not only can we plan "off the calendar", but we can get better rates. Want to go to Paris for the weekend?
• Walking around the house with no clothes. Don't laugh, I think this is a real perk. Skinny dipping? Yup.
• Romance. Okay, I probably don't need to elaborate further on this one.
There are lots more little things, and don't get me wrong there are TONS of things that I will miss that will no doubt make me a tad weepy in upcoming weeks/months, but this post is about something else. The next part of my life and the next part of Bryan's and my life together. So many fantastic projects, plans, and ideas to spin. Let's face it, I always feel like there just isn't enough time to do everything that is rolling around in my head, and now, there is just a little bit more. And I'll take it.
Time to launch into the next phase.
Tomorrow we drop off Daniel, get him settled, and say goodbye. I have no doubt that he will do great in this next phase of HIS life. A great deal of work and positive choice has brought him to this point. It is good to recognize this accomplishment on both sides.
I will chronicle tomorrow's events here, but for today, I am looking forward.
I am sitting at my desk in my morning robe with my coffee. Checking email and blog and glancing now and then at the GIANT stack of paper that is Daniel's newly printed third draft. Even at a reduced font the thing is almost a ream of paper. This is the first time we actually printed it, as we have been reading the digital version for proofing and edits. Ten pages to go and the printer ran out of paper. It is flashing a little green light that say so.
Then I notice a beeping sound in time with the light. That is weird. It never beeped before.
Daniel's new alarm is going of in the other room.
As I sit here getting annoyed at the repeated beep, beep, beep, beep, I also consider the fact that this is a test run for my final replacement, (for one part of my mommy job). Yes of course he has been waking up on his own for a while now, but there was always a back up...
beep, beep, beep, beep.
I can't go in and wake him up, it has to be his trusty alarm. Come monday when his classes start that will be what gets him out of bed (yes I will have to resist the urge to phone him). Now I am resisting the urge to go in and wake him, if not for my own sanity to stop the...
beep, beep, beep, beep.
How can he keep sleeping through that?
beep, beep, beep, beep.
What if this new clock doesn't work? What if he has to depend on his roomates to wake him...
beep, beep, beep, beep, still coming from his room, then a rustling, then...
Thank god for small miracles.
It seems that cooking lessons are cathartic because Daniel was up before us this morning. Apparently Bryan had agreed to teach him how to make french toast today. French toast on a weekend morning has become a ritual for us as a family. As I watched my guys putter around the kitchen (mom is off limits here) it made me way too reflective. Of course I had to share these thoughts with my guys (like when Bryan made me french toast at midnight when I was pregnant). Oh good grief! Honestly I am trying to take this thing in stride but am being ambushed by my own feelings. All morning the more I tried to make light of the move the more I felt worse and realized the words were hollow. The tension just kept building in my chest.
So we ate, and discussed last minute needs, -a new alarm clock.
So we went on a quest to Target for a new clock, and some packing boxes.
Two Targets later, the perfect clock in hand. Now what? What would be the perfect thing for a last outing? Something fun and light, maybe even goofy. So I suggested it.
Snakes On A Plane.
Yes we went and saw it. And it is exactly what the title says.
Snakes On A Plane.
Totally predictable, even trite and maybe that is why it was so good. Bad thriller meets the old airplane movies of the 70's, except it doesn't take itself (as a movie) that seriously. Totally gratuitous, but that is the charm. And who can resist Samuel L. Jackson. It was gross, and we laughed like crazy. If you thought I was too cerebral for such things, I am sorry to disappoint but...
It was the perfect thing.
I am not sure how I will look back on this day, the Sunday before my baby went to college. In the haze of a fond reflective memory I may never be able to make room for...
But that is what selective memory is for. And as for today, it sure made me feel better.
Bryan and Daniel making breakfast.
Actually it was a very good, low stress Saturday. I continued to haul some bricks from one side of the yard to the other. Bryan was working on some video, and Daniel sorted books.
books to take, and books to leave behind.
The packing has begun (or at least the sorting through) which will all have to be done wednesday night, hopefully loaded into the car. We have to be at MICA at 8am the next day.
So this saturday saw us all doing things separately, but coming together for dinner. Daniel made a fantastic meal of grilled swordfish, cous cous, brussel sprouts, and green beans.
The conversation sort of dragged. Each one of us in our different thoughts. The clock is ticking.
Daniel tossing the beans.
I am a pacifist
but I gave into fear
and bought a gun
and killed a child
playing in the street
eyes brown and bright
she looked right at me
before I blew her away
for my freedom
I gave into fear
and signed a ballot
now there is blood on my hands
that little girl
who will never grow up
perhaps in eternity I will meet her
kissing my grandkids goodbye
something she will never have
and explain to her
about acceptable loss
it was a mistake
you were in the way
my intentions were good
it just didn't work out
I wanted you to be free
but my plan didn't work
and now we're here
with acceptable loss
it may be easy to think
that i am blameless
that it was someone else
who's bullet let fly
but I wrote the check
that paid my taxes
that purchased a gun
that killed the child
and now I live with
my freedom, my choice
gave someone permission
to make the decision
and determine what is
I am a housewife
a person with no real authority
so you really can't blame me
for the death of the child
I can glory in freedom
I have choice and selection
to buy the right brand
and fill up at the pump
but the death of one child haunts my mind
as I stand in the check-out line
calculating the degrees of separation
for my own comfort
so at what cost to my soul
was that freedom
a deal with the devil
so I can go to the mall?
Walking the skitzoid line of being absolutely mopey due to son's looming departure, and still being fully involved in the read, and re-read editing process of his novel.
This is no small undertaking.
Especially walking the tight rope of critic/mom. That is a tough one. But early on Daniel made it very clear that he wanted to write the story on his terms and not have it hacked apart by editors for the sake of making it commercially palatable (this coming from someone who wrote a monthly column for five years). It is a luxury that he has, being only 18 and not needing to rely on potential sales to pay the bills (although it would be nice to pay for college!). At any rate I am compelled to allow him this creative freedom. The other reality will come soon enough. The book is long and chock full of religious, historical and political metaphor that can be lost on the reader. It is also very distopian. And to top that off it gets explicit in ways that could make a christian mother blush.
But it makes a statement.
The story takes the reader into a world where there is a huge disparity between the institution of church, and actual faith. Very much like Dune creates a fictional world that critiques the ongoing struggle for oil couched in religious and political freedom via future-fictional parallels. There are many layers that don't necessarily give it a stable hook into a given genre. Ok, it is science-fiction/fantasy for sure, but there are many metaphorical references to the historical journey of the church that will be lost on a reader unless they are "churched". And even then most "churched" may not get it because the church (today's) doesn't teach its own history. And the irony is that it would never pass the filters of "christian" publishing. Too many bold statements made using imagery that would make a "christian" reader feel like it was crossing the line of appropriate moral reading.
I am having to refrain from doing my business thang and analyzing it in the context of "what might sell". A quick weekend read, it is not. And for the sake of literary integrity he has pretty much painted himself into a narrow market corner.
So as a mom, what do I encourage? Boil it down for the mass-appeal, or leave it as-is and see what happens?
Not to say that editing for quality and readability was sacrificed. I began reading his third draft last night and the fine tuning is down to picking out extra words, and basic typing glitches. It goes out to a handful of test readers this week. Christian, non-christian, different ages and lifestyles. It will be interesting to see the feedback.
preliminary cover design for Children of Falin
I am at work doing my thing.
And part of "that thing" is keeping our household going. Working at home means that sometimes the most efficient way to get everything done is to mix the business chores with household chores etc. Such is the life of a stay-at-home-mom/business owner/artist (not necessarily in that order)
and not for long. At least the stay-at-home-MOM part.
My kid goes to college in just over a week. And one of my "things" to do today is to wade through the final details and make sure that everything is in place in preparation for the big DROP-OFF on the 24th. Doing what I always do, making my lists, thinking through last minute items that need to be purchased, making sure the very last forms have been turned in, phone calls...
and reality is dawning.
I am looking at the college info... mundane instructions of how that day will play out, like
8AM check-in and pick up orientation packet... then unload your belongings into your apartment... etc. et..
There is a painful tug at my heart.
Just looking over the info is killing me. If I can't even look at the info, HOW in the world am I going to behave on the day of the big DROP-OFF?
It is crazy. I am not a super sentimental type. In fact I think one of my flaws might be that I sometimes live more in the future and in the process miss the value in any given moment. I have to work at being truly present. But when it comes to moving through this particular moment, this "future" I get stuck.
Our little family has been SUPER blessed. We all have been healthy. We have had some fabulous experiences traveling. We love each other's company and are intertwined in our creative pursuits, often getting inspiration from each other. We have traveled down a spiritual path together that few families have. And now we are coming to a milestone that some people only dream about.
I should be grateful beyond measure, and part of me is. But another part wrestles with the closing chapter that is the nature of this milestone. Sure it is also a new beginning, but it is the closing, the endings of some things that I grapple with now.
Like the deep conversations that happen at random moments.
Morning cappuccinos and weekend french toast.
Working together on crazy projects all in the name of art.
Laughing at each other and with each other.
I could go on and on, and I know it may seem melodramatic, and some of these things we will still be able to do post-college,
but it won't be quite the same.
Like the day I let go of a little boy's hand. A tiny boy of only five starting his first day of kindergarten. A little boy barely knowing how to tie his own shoes stepping into the first stage of growing up, the leaving of home for a short time each day...
things weren't quite the same.
And now this.
It is the natural order of things. Growth and change are the positive things that mark our lives and make them worthwhile. And we, as a family, can point toward a bundle of them that have composed the beautiful path I can look back on with pride.
But this is still hard.
I know that right now my job is to take these moments (in the next days and week, and then THAT day) and set the tone. Set a tone of celebration for this milestone. Hopefully being mindful of this will help me face that day as a proud mother, dressing the day with encouraging words and cheerful thoughts, empowering Daniel for the next part of this incredible journey...
and not be a weeping, blubbering idiot when it is time to say goodbye.
I can do that in the car on the way home.
I finished the first attempt at expressionism-canvas (which I don't really like and may paint over) on saturday morning. I immediately started another. I was working the first one too hard and felt the need to loosen up even further. This second one was more successful doing that. Appropriately it is about conception, birth, or new beginnings...
ex nihilo (latin. out of nothing)
This is a term Bryan brought up at breakfast one morning and we bantered it about in relation to a name for the artist's retreat. The whole term, Creatio ex nihilo is a latin phrase meaning "creation out of nothing" which refers to god's absolute creation.
ex nihilo (latin. out of nothing)
I like the term and what it means and it was on my mind when I painted this on Saturday. The canvas is 36 x 36.
here is its beginning. Bryan is doing some video editing in the background.
Today's break from work (my artist's date) started with a visit with friend Betsy and the "world's cutest baby" Ian who I am now kickin myself for not taking a picture so you will have to go here to see him. Besty was kind enough to bring cheesecake from the Amish market and I made cappuccino and we chatted while "world's cutest played content with NO TOYS other than an ornamental trike from my coffee table and a set of coasters that made good teethers. Cheesecake for brunch is the perfect thing for an artist date, let me tell you. It put me in the perfect "what the hell" frame of mind in order to try something that my kid suggested.
One evening while we were at Macaroni Grill and I was sketching a jewelry design on the table with a purple crayon he asked, "Why don't you paint like that?"
I never thought of it.
So at the encouragement of my abstract expressionist son, I am attempting a new expression. Actually it is not completely new because if you saw my jewelry you would see a similarity, but it is a new expression with paint.
I have no idea what I am doing but the point of this is following instinct instead of intellect. At any rate it will get me out of the "thin place" style that I seized up on.
This weekend we rented the TONKA again and Bryan dug while Daniel and I worked on the damaged retaining wall. A few weeks ago I had and estimate done on what it would cost to replace the existing wall. 7000.00.
So, wanting to change the big wall into three tiered sections anyway, Bryan and I opted for the DIY route. I had checked out a bunch of books on masonry and knew that we needed a tuckpointer. It is a tool that masons use to grind out old mortar. We opted for a cheaper angle grinder with a tuckpointing disk.
What can I say. I'll try anything once. And I love power tools.
While I was grinding mortar and bashing bricks with a sledge hammer, Daniel was hauling brick and Bryan ran the Tonka. Well, I turned my back for a second and the kid decides to take my new toy (the angle grinder). Here he is joining in the fun. I was left to haul the bricks.
Progress made today wasn't bad. Considering we are going brick by brick, the wall is coming down faster than expected.
I approach my artist date (friday) with the desire to paint but I am conflicted. Conflicted by forces competing against the muse. This is nothing new and has hit this blog so many times that it is annoying. Like something you ate that won't digest properly. But I think there is something about our culture that inherently bars the muse. Complexity. Right now my desk looks like a tornado hit. But it is just normal daily living. Complexity. Every day when the mail arrives there is so much junk, so many offers, credit card offers, coupons, catalogs... Junk. Each one promising to make life a smidge better while demanding your attention if not just to be thrown away ten seconds after opening. (I would love to know the statistic on how much time is spent throughout a lifetime opening junk mail). Complexity. And now that Daniel is eighteen and has apparently landed on THE mailing list that announces "NEW consumer-going-to-college-easy-target", he is getting all sorts of junk mail from college loan offers to credit card offers, to dorm products and life insurance.
I long for simplicity.
While on Long Island interviewing Miss Ophelia she said something that reminded me of how different our worlds are. Her version of a complaint about the world becoming complex, but in comparison to ours, a paradise. She explained of how it used to be "way back when" they had one bill to pay (I am not sure what it was for at that time) but now (in a very incredulous tone) "We have three. Three bills!"
What I would give to have only three bills to pay.
For the sake of having so much, our culture literally drowns in its own wealth. We have so many options that precious time is spent in the selection of the things that we want to buy. This is one of the reasons I hate going to the grocery store. Too many options. We have come to expect everything to be offered in the fashion of a Starbucks menu. Too many choices.
I just want coffee.
How much do we really need, anyway? All this complexity (masquarading as choice) creates layers and layers of stuff that you have to wade through just to get to baseline. Baseline for me is that starting point from which an artist can create from. This starting point may have other factors working against it anyway (like health, difficult family surroundings, educational challenges, the list goes on). If an artist manages to have all of that together, is healthy (whole mentally, physically, and spiritually) and has worked their craft to the point that it is a comfortable skill, then they might be at baseline.
Except for the complexity.
Daily life in our culture makes it very hard to get to baseline. It is an achievement. Maybe that is why there are so many different types of pharmaceuticals offered up like candy (again, too many choices) to make our lives FEEL less complex while damaging our bodies in the process, putting us farther from our baseline.
I guess that is why today, facing my artist's date, I have this tug at my heart, a longing for my little island. Things seem so much simpler there (they get their mail by boat once a week). While I work very hard at maintaining my healthy baseline to create my art, it seemed easier there. Fewer barriers. The very air carries a vibe that imbues inspiration.
Maybe it is just the ocean wind.
Of course the irony in this is that my last post is all about research and choice. But really that is more about making wise decisions in the creative process. Like knowing how to wield a paint brush in pursuit of the masterpiece. It is more like choosing the plants that will create a beautiful garden than choosing a flavor of ice cream. One creates, the other consumes.
I would like to think that I am driven more by what I create than what I consume.
So today I will contemplate simplicity and pray against complexity, think about the clear waters on my little island...
and maybe the muse will appear.
This summer's activities are in various form. On top of keeping the planet spinning, creating new works and uploading that of our 34 artists, I am also helping Daniel edit and design his book (isn't it cool he asked for his mom's help) which is a pleasure, of course. But while juggling these wonderful things I am also working on the mondo. Of course I am not talking about my whole mondo list, just the biggest item on it... the creation of the artist's retreat. Can't let any dust settle on this baby. So I am starting to formulate what hopefully will look like a business plan when I am through. Research and choice is where we are at. Striking a balance of what the ultimate desire would be with what is possible. So it begins, the choosing process.
It is amazing what you find when you actually start looking. Artist communities have actually been around for a very long time, I just never really looked into it. Silly me, I just decide I am going to create one before checking that they actually exist. But they do, and there is much to be learned. In my research I have been encouraged to find a few very basic common factors among these artist retreats.
1. Solitude-uninterrupted time.
2. An inspiring natural location.
3. Good facilities in which to work.
The great thing is I already knew this at a gut level because, frankly, as an artist it's the stuff that I need. So I go rushing ahead running on instinct (which can be dangerous) and buy a beach (okay, I actually researched that like crazy too, just not with all the artist retreat info in hand) It is really nice to know that my research just happens to be backing up my instinct (phew!) Buying the beach seems to take care of the first two items on the list. At least the second one. Creating spaces that inspire artists and providing good studio space will be the next HUGE piece to making this thing fly. And it means jostling with and jumping through all the legal hoops in the bahamas. Right now that seems like a big huge bite off the elephant. But so did buying a beach a few months ago. For me, if I were to try to eat the whole thing at once... ok you probably get the metaphor. The point is, one step at a time.
One very exciting step at a time.
I have also been very encouraged by the fact that these Artist communities come in all shapes and sizes. First I got intimidated by reading about those on huge acreages (because we have only bought a little over an acre) but continued research revealed that (ok I can't resist) size doesn't matter. What does matter is tone, vibe, ambiance, and support.
I can do that. Actually I am really good at the first three (creating space). The last one is where I will need some help. Being an introvert doesn't play well into the social aspect of this thing, and pushes me out of my comfort zone. But it is also where my heart is at (which is strange), encouraging other artists in their art.
Maybe it will just take getting the first group in there and watching what happens.
kinda like planting a church.
without the hymns.
Back from the Doc with Daniel. Today was the second half of the physical required to get into MICA. This one was somewhat uneventful (thankfully) with no gruff nurse and no passing out-close-calls at starbucks after. It was a simple exam, blood pressure, say ah, deep breaths, and oh yea...
The Meningitis vaccine.
Ok, I am one to avoid doctors unless something really serious has happened (like profuse bleeding, unconsciousness, or missing parts). But when it comes to something like a relatively new disease that looks like the flu that can kill you in twelve hours...
and seems to target doorm living freshmen...
I am inclined to pay attention. But I am also aware of how some vaccines can have nasty side effects that can be just as bad as the disease. I am not one to run off at the drop of a hat to get a shot just because some doctor announces that it is a good idea. I need a wee more information.
So the choice placed in front of myself as a mother with a son that will be a "dorm living freshmen" in a few weeks was: shot or no shot (you can sign a waiver). After two medical professionals recommended it, plus a whole lot of reading, and a discussion with Daniel (who's decision it is anyway) that went something like this...
"What do you think" (me)
"Well, I really don't want to be at school and get the flu, and be paranoid that I might die in the next twelve hours just because I didn't want to get a shot." (daniel)
Makes total sense. And after finding out that the vaccine is "pretty benign" (doctors words) with no side effects, it made even more sense.
So Daniel got the shot.
One more thing off the list that paves the path to college. What a journey this is. But I have to say that while watching the doc doing Daniel's physical I was reminded at how profound and blessed it is to be healthy. Doc went through all of his scores, one by one. I guess seeing information laid out like that, piece by piece makes you reflect a little more. He is in perfect health (I think he is a little skinny but ah well). I guess the old cliche about health is true, and today I was reminded that it is a gift not to be taken for granted. And as a parent what could be better.
I have a strong healthy son who is going off to college.
I am blessed.