Monthly Archives: June 2007

Fridays and fuzzy bunny slippers

At last, the weekend has arrived. I thought it was Friday on Thursday, which made for the last two work days of this week seem much l o n g e r than I’d hoped, but Friday finally came along and I was armed with my iPod to help assist me with my lagging concentration. I feel like a crow these days… anything shiny (no… it doesn’t even take that) creates an “oh, look! shiny object!” syndrome and distracts me from whatever I’m doing. Let’s just say I’ve been having trouble concentrating on the work at hand. The office has become a fairly noisy place these days, what with a couple of louder co-workers and, sitting right next to a very popular boardroom (people heading to these meetings think they’re in a hotel lobby or something, not at a workplace that requires concentration – of all things!). Or I could blame my lackadaisic attitude on the draw of the sun to the great outdoors, but alas…

So, yesterday afternoon one of the facility folks bought up a round of office chairs for folks to try out and lined them up in front of my desk, which is not a cubicle… I am out in the open, so people may not only walk up to me and ask for directions to the boardroom (which a big brass shiny sign on the wall behind me indicates is right there) or inquire as to where the bathrooms are (which they passed on the left as they came out of the elevators and up the hall), but they may also observe me picking my nose or eating my lunch… in any case, these chairs were lined up for the good folk of our department to test drive so that they could select one that best fits them. I found the whole exercise particularly amusing because this activity was met with such great enthusiasm, and of course being excited, everyone was loudly discussing the pros, cons and otherwise of the proferred selection, and the comfort levels of their derrieres. It was so funny that I thought (out loud to one of the gals: this is funny, I should take pictures!) and was encouraged to do so… so out came my camera and I shot the first photo…

…then the second…

…after which I got such a whithering look from one of the girls that my feelings got hurt and I put away the camera. I tell ya, if arrows could be shot, I’d be a riddled, bloody mess, pinned up to the nearest cubicle wall (yes, some people do get cubicles)…

In any case, I decided at that point to shove my earpieces into my ears and max out the volume of my iPod (while what I really wanted to say was: well, aren’t we being bitchy… can’t you see this is just some harmless fun… I’m documenting a “bonding” moment within our department, and considering that most everybody is always bitching about something or someone, this would certainly be something to commemorate, yes?). I also thought that I just might pull the photo of the offending person into Photoshop and draw on some BIG and FUZZY bunny slippers, but being afflicted with the “I’m a crow… look! shiny object!” syndrome, I’ve lost interest in the whole thing…

I awoke this morning with the urge to run… don’t know what that’s about, but it happens sometimes and I usually ignore it until it passes, but I decided to haul my fat ass out of bed this morning and suit up for the gym instead, shoved the iPod earpieces into my ear and took off. Besides… the birds were freakin’ “cheep”-ing non-stop (in wasn’t “chirp”-ing, which is rather pleasant… this is the pissed off “cheep!”…) and after uncovering them, checking to make sure they had food and water (which I’d refilled late yesterday afternoon anyway), and laying back down, the cheeping continued so I figured I might as well get up.

Argh… I am so out of shape. To emphasize the point, what will be two weeks prior to this Monday, I decided to reorganize the patent files in our file room… some of the shelves laid empty while others were shoved so tight with files that you could barely pull a sucker off of there, so I decided to shuffle the files around. I started around 8:30am and worked straight through ’til about 2:50pm… that’s a lot of bending, scooping, turning the shelving units, pushing the large stack of files onto the next open shelf. It was quite a workout and by the end of the day I was wrecked. In fact, I was hurting through Friday, by which time I could manage to mount and descend the stairs to our apartment building without wincing. I thankfully felt better by the weekend, which is a good thing, considering we spent it in Mammoth.

In any case, I wanted to ride on the coat-tails, so to speak, of having “broken” in my muscles somewhat, but realize now that I’ll be hurting all over again. OH well… especially my biceps, which I can feel the lactic acid congregating in as I type (even with the stretching I did after each machine). I’ve decided to start going every other day and just do the circuit training thing, with 10-15 minutes of cardio. I’m glad that I still remember how to use and adjust the machines, and the proper form for each exercise. I have this “tire” in my middle that I’ve been carrying around for years now… while it serves as a really good floatation device, it also is a great precursor to heart disease, and since my mom keeled over of a massive heart attack (and I already have a congenital heart defect), I figure I’d better get my shit together. I want to be around for long enough to see my grandchild(ren) and actually have them remember me. One of my great sadnesses is that neither my husband or my child ever got to meet my father…

I started working on my “yellow” postcard piece last night and it looks like this so far…

I really like the color and the images I’ve collaged down, but I’m at a stalemate about what else to do to the thing. Time to go stare at it some more…

The better to see you with…

I have the weirdest thoughts sometimes. When I was young (and I suppose when exactly that was is all subjective, depending upon whose paradigm you are peering through… it’s all very ambiguous) I used to worry about losing my eyesight, and wondered how I would cope if such a tragedy were to occur. Occasionally… ambiguously… fleetingly… the same worry resurfaces (perhaps when I try to read small type and can’t anymore even with my “progressive” lenses-ha!).

For reasons unknown to me, my grandfather (my mother’s father) lost his eyesight in old age, and my mother would tell of how the girls would take turns reading to him. Being as addicted to books as I am (and I suppose there are worst addictions to be afflicted with) it would be positively demoralizing not to be able to read… or have sight. Being a visual artist as well as a writer (let’s not forget the avid reader part), I ponder the ramifications of not having visual faculties, and whether I’d somehow develop new ones or strengthen the ones that are already there to compensate.

(Uh-oh… off on a tangent… )

In the last Matrix movie, Neo loses is eyesight, but somehow manages to “see” with his eyes covered, in fact without the use of his eyes. He is able to sense his surroundings broken down into electrical impulses… well, essentially, all that we “see” is really the brain’s translation of electrical impulses sent via the eyes to the brain. Would there be a way to translate those impulses without the use of the eyes as a road connecting the two? Is there really anything out there at all? Is what we are sensorily experiencing just a really big (but really good) mind fuck? Well… who knows…

Some days I wish that was all it was… just a bunch of us little electronic blips on the radar screen of life, randomly repelling and attracting… other times I wish there was infintestimally more to it. And would someone please explain how I can sometimes feel inexplicably lonely in a room full of people while at other times, when I’m walking alone on the beach or sitting by a mountain stream, I feel more connected to everything and everyone than ever? That’s what it’s all about for me, really… meaningful connections… with people, mostly, but I’ll settle for pets and locations, too.

I picked up a book today (tell me you’re not surprised)… well, actually, it’s a magazine of sorts, called BOMB. One of the literary pieces included in this #100 issue is Incantations: Songs, Spells and Images by Mayan Women. A contributor by the name of Xpetra Ernandes writes, in her Witchcraft for Attracting a Man: “I want him to come with flowers in his heart. With all his heart, I want him to talk to my body. I want his blood to ache for me when he sees me on the way to the market […] I want to join myself to him. I want this man to be my other half.”

Wow… I’m certain that many women feel this way… this strange compulsion for the ultimate communion with a man… not any man but THE man. The man who gets her, sees her (all of her, just the way she is) and STILL feels drawn into this bizarre melding that transcends … all.

Through experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that women are the only ones afflicted by such fanciful thoughts, and men, well… they’re just happy getting their rocks off and going off to forage for food (or something like that)… not that they’re shallow or anything, but the reptile brain genes just haven’t receded enough. *sigh*

The Sierras

We left Friday afternoon to head up to Mammoth Mountain. Steve was covering a couple of afternoons worth of MX racing over the weekend and so we decided to all tag along. I haven’t been up to Mammoth since we moved down to Southern California in 1999. When we lived in the Bay Area, we’d go up every year for the mountain bike race held there in June.

Lots has changed since my last visit… a whole new Village cropped up when I wasn’t looking. It’s nice, but… I’m still not sure whether I like the change or not (though my opinion of it certainly won’t make any difference as to whether or not it stays that way *smile*). The Starbuck’s is great, but I wish they had a book store in the Village.

What didn’t change is the great big fissure in the earth… we’d taken Gabriel to see it when he was about two years old (he claims to remember the visit) and we kept teasing him about going to see his big crack… so being the funny guy that he is, he took to the “big crack” crack and pounded it into the ground…

         
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The drive up the 395 is nothing short of breathtaking. I am in awe of the California landscape… from sea to mountain to desert. The ‘395’ gallery shots were shot mostly through the windshield of the truck, or with my window rolled down. I wasn’t going for pristine shots… just wanted to capture the colors for reference for potential watercolors.

The trout farm was cool, too. I’ve never hand-fed trout, but there you have it…

The weekend ended far too quickly (although the bed in the bed & breakfast we stayed at was… uncomfortable, to say the least) and the drive home far too long, particularly through the 91 corridor, where they had closed off four lanes of traffic to work on the roads. Almost made me feel back at home (we’d often joke that there were two seasons in Montreal… “winter” and “construction”… I know, not so funny…)

More random thoughts and philisophical meanderings…

* Guilt, though a natural by-product of the human condition, is best utilized as a springboard for striving to better ourselves, not turned around to lay blame for our own shortcomings on another party
* You can not lay blame if you take personal responsibility (or ascribe to the concept of personal responsibility); attempts to control others, or mold them into our perception of what we think is optimal, is fruitless… a waste of time, energy, and personal growth for all parties involved
* Taking responsibility for our actions does not directly result in success/failure, which in and of itself is relative to our limited perception (like peering out of a straw to view the universe)
* Being attached to outcome limits growth; that is not to say that one shouldn’t always strive to do one’s best, but to realize that the outcome is fluid and it is what it is, taking on a life of its own, so to speak
* Embrace the duality of existence… both its darkness and its brilliance are integral to its wholeness, and not honoring both leads towards imbalance
* Humans, while we claim to embrace individuality, seem to be hard-wired to a herd mentality; any individual who asserts a perspective differing from the commonly accepted norms usually is vehemently opposed/ridiculed/ostracized/penalized/eradicated until his assertions are verified and become accepted, resulting in the resetting of the collective perspective or norm

Did you know… ?
* Quantum mechanics purports that previously chaotic subatomic particles, through the mere act of observation, become coherent

News of my world… feeling the yellow

I’ve started working on the next batch of postcards, peripherally, anyway. I’ve been going through these huge piles of magazines that I have, gleaning images for my image stash, and throughout that process have been putting aside the “yellows” that I’ve found so far. Of my three huge magazine stacks, I now only have about a six inch stack left, so I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been saving these books for years to go through and harvest images from, and it’s always been one of the projects I’ve pushed off to the back burner for lack of time as other issues were always burning more brightly.

I’ve finally (and hopefully sustainably) regained my health (well, I still have 60lbs to lose, but that doesn’t count… :P) and my energy levels have improved. I’m feeling creative… yaay! I have lots of plans… today I’m going to the office supply store and picking up a “daytimer” refill and will attempt organization. I am notably inept at it these days. I used to be really great about it until somewhere into the middle of my marriage, when I just chucked the whole concept out the window. My husband creates a sort of chaotic void (resists order like I’ve never in my life witnessed heretofore). I can’t really explain it in any other way. I used to really resent him for it but now see it as an opportunity for change for myself; not get sucked into the black hole but learn to use it and work with it… be flexible with my schedule instead of a) rigid (I was doing that for a while after my son was born and I returned to work. I’d spend inordinate amounts of time traveling to and from my workplace, slogged through my work day and then got home and had to go all of the domestic stuff too… AND have creative time… at the time I’d pretty much dropped most of my art and was slowly getting back into it via scrapbooking and rubberstamping). My attempts to recruit him for assistance failed, and so I was stewing with resentment, and then dropped the ball because it got too heavy for me to carry alone. Lots of things disintegrated over time… including our marriage… which led to a nine month split in 2002/2003 and an enforced reunion (because I’d lost my job and Gabriel and I were in need of a place to live… it was his one bedroom apartment or the street).

I was at yet another turning point in my life… our separation had been difficult for me… I wasn’t the one to call for it and was saddened and dismayed that our nine year investment into each others’ lives (not to mention having another co-created life amidst us) had come to this… failure. I looked upon it as a failure, as a loss of an investment of time. That’s how I used to look at all of my (previous) relationships.

I learned to surrender… I’d been so busy trying to “man-handle” the flow of life… it’s until you let go, flow with it and trust that you will end up where you need to be that it finally takes you to the next place you need to be heading. Trust… surrender… those are the two things I learned… regardless of what situation… good or bad… I needed to learn that.

In any case… shortly after we got back together, we decided to stay together, at least tentatively. I’d gained a new sense of myself (which he honed in on and was impressed with the ‘change’… I’d been depressed for several years prior to the “collapse,” or maybe it was some of that combined with really low red blood cell count… I found out that I was anemic–borderline transfusible–and that explained a whole lot of things as far as that went…) and creatively was taking off in a new direction. I was doing lots of collaborative art dolls and journals and incorporating my own artwork into the mix, instead of using rubberstamps and such.

Just a few short weeks after we moved to our third floor apartment in Irvine (to be closer to his workplace… and mine too, as I began temping as a patent secretary again in the Newport area) he had a moto crash (shattered his tibial plateau, requiring reconstructive surgery–i.e., pins and a plate–and three months of “weightlessness”–i.e., using crutches to get around). Two weeks after that my mom–who lived in the ‘burbs of Montreal–had a massive heart attack and passed on (my dad had already gone that route in 1991 via lung cancer). What a year… what a doggone couple of years… but that was the last of it (at least for a while) and all of this changed me in so many ways.

Buddhists embrace the concept of “impermanence”… I don’t prescribe to any specific religion but I suppose the Buddhist philosophy may be closest to my understanding at this time (though I don’t practice any dharmapada)… I’ve run the gamut of various religions, simultaneously find them all equally fascinating and disturbing… and have come to the conclusion that I don’t have a need to follow a religion… I am who I am… I consider the universal energy flow around us and the earth my “parents”… I’ve been orphaned and adopted, even though I’ve only just recently come to realize it. Humans seem to feel the need to impose limitations upon themselves. I’m not sure whether that process yields negative or positive results. In a way it makes us “think outside the box” in order to overcome the restrictions, while at the same time it gives us the sense that we have finite powers, and limited in our capacity to do and change things, which narrows our perspective to the likes of looking at the universe through a straw.

+++ Sidebar: how did I get off on such a tangent?! +++

Anyway… so here I am, ready to embrace another new, and hopefully creative and productive phase of my life.

Back to my daytimer thought… I have several stories I am working on. One is possibly novel length (perhaps more of a compilation of short stories rather than one fluid story–not sure yet). The others are shorter: one is destined to be a children’s story, for a younger (but not really elementary) readership; the other a visual story: few words accompanied by printed plates. I plan to print them on the Gocco and hand-tint them with watercolor using a very simple and subtle palette, making a limited edition of 12 seven inch square hand-bound books.

The daytimer will serve as a way for me to carve out time for all of these, but still be able to maintain essential other things into my schedule: work… parenting and wife-ing duties… housekeeping and chef duties… exercise… personal/”me” time for reading, journaling, non-scheduled “arting”… like that.

And on that note, I’m off to make some breakfast…

Postcards cut & addressed…

Mondays are a bitch anyway, but let’s face it, some days just suck the big lemon. Sometimes it depends which side of the bed you get up on… other days it has a whole lot to do with sleep deprivation… and then again, some days, like today, it’s a combination of many things, including the aforementioned pair as well as “outside influences” (meaning other people’s behaviour, which you have absolutely no dominion over). So after suffering through the day, it was with great delight that I arrived home this afternoon to gaze upon this lovely package from Anahata Katkin. With the layers of tissue paper peeled away, the treasures revealed themselves: a set of Nepalese hand-carved heart milagro wooden stamps, a white Signo Uniball pen imported from Japan and Anahata’s Journaling the Journey Workshop Book.

My day just got a whole lot better! Time to go and play…

Pastel postcard production

I’ve started on the next batch of postcards and will mail both last month’s and this month’s out together shortly. Thought I’d share some photos of the process of their creation…

Started off with a watercolor background on some thick watercolor paper, and thinly cut strips of light colored papers, applied with my favorite collage medium, Perfect Paper Adhesive (matte)…

Then I sketched some ladies’ heads to go with the spray of flowers I cut out… all were scanned into Photoshop and manipulated and then printed out onto transparency…

Almost done now… the sheet of postcards is about ready for cutting up. Added some stenciling with acrylic paint, and chalk marker.