An Autumnal Hiatus

Last week and this week present something strange to me. A visitation of days past, where my hours in the morning and afternoon are strangely silent, where I have lunches with people not seen in months or years as a single person. No longer are there small, cute, intense people attached to me as I attempt to have a conversation with another grown-up. No, I have not died, nor gone completely delusional. My daughters are in kindergarten from 9 a.m. until 3:50 p.m. and I am in-between jobs.

My last day of work at my previous position was October 10 and here it is, October 22. My new job starts a week from today, October 29. I think this is the largest stretch of time I’ve had to myself since I was in my 20s, working three or four days a week at a florist, with the rest of all eternity to do whatever the hell I wanted to do with my time and what little money I had.

Certainly as a mother, this twelve day stretch of quiet, broken up by the two day weekends intermixed, is unprecedented. I can’t say it isn’t good, because it is. There is a part of me that feels profoundly sad that this freedom will end in a week, and I’ll go back to being just a little bit overextended in pretty much every way possible. No, actually, that makes me really sad. And I am definitely mourning this precious time off before it is even over, similar to the way I mourn the end of the crepe papier pink trees at the climax of spring before the buds actually explode. Because I know this idea of perfection is only an idea. That my creative energies are not quite where I’d like them to be with this much unstructured time alone.

Why is the only time a person can have this kind of time is when they are between jobs? Am I wrong about this?

I still managed to get into the studio this morning for an hour and a half before the outside world started calling me with responsibility requests. I should have left the phone downstairs. I will leave it downstairs tomorrow morning. When I attempt to find out where I left the small amount of creativity I used to think I had.

Poop.

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Happy New Beer!

Photo of bare trees against a blue pink sky at sunset in winter.

Happy mf new year, peeps! I lost half the month already. Almost. February will be the four-year anniversary of 20/20! Can you imagine? I remember exactly when I started writing this shits. T’was the winter of my discontent, a delayed post-partum depression, that showed up a year or two late. I was sick with some sort of unsavory scourge, or about to be, the 2008 presidential extravaganza was getting revved and ready. Rachel Maddow was emerging from her corduroy cocoon, kicking the flat ass of each and every one of the blustery white men who uttered bluster after bluster of hot air surrounding her. I may have had a crush on Rachel then. Maybe I still do, though am perplexed at her make-up artist’s decision to have her wear false eyelashes. Not really her style.

Yesterday was my one year anniversary at my job. No fanfare, no plaques. It is a bit of a miracle I survived an entire year at this job. The benefits of this position are becoming apparent finally. Other than regular income, I have actually learned about something I feel some passion for. Incredible. No details until there are details to share. It is not all for naught. Shocking.

Paintings are emerging again from the carpeted command center on the top floor. Shouldn’t I give my art room a name? Dying flowers, maps of unknown worlds. This is on the art menu at the moment. Not so different than always. Mimi and Beenie were actually able to hang with me this past Sunday after they got home from church. They came into the studio while I was in the middle of finishing a layer of color on a painting, and got out some pencils and paper and drew while I finished-up. It was fun to have them there! I was only using linseed oil as a medium so they weren’t inhaling bad fumes, though not everyone likes the smell of the linseed oil. I don’t think it’s bad for humans, tho. Got an extra 45 minutes out of painting-time with them there.

Don’t know why this is titled happy new beer. Just seemed silly and beery. I like beer. I drank almost a whole beer last night with no apparent side-effect this morning. I may try another one next week to test the fizzy, hoppy waters again.

Old skool

Section of a map project I'm working on. Crappy photo.

Today’s post is total old skool stylee. Home at 3:48 in the afternoon, fixin’ to leave in ten minutes to collect the ladies from school. Stayed home today because I’m sick, and now that I am employed, I get paid to be sick. I should get sick more often. Really tho, nobody likes a germ carrier polluting the already questionable air in the fluorescent cube-land where I work. I’m hacking in my own space today.

We moved into our house at the end of April 2011, and today, October 20, 2011 is the first day I’ve had all to myself in this house. It has taken six months for me to have total peace. And peaceful it has been, friends. Almost napped with two cats pinning me down, drank tea and coffee, coughed and sucked on cough drops. Contemplated the cause and cure for canker sores (OUCH), wrote a bit. Read a bit. Walked to the grocery store to get some healthy food to help me feel better, and make for my family. And here I am. Still have to unload the dishwasher, maybe throw in a load of laundry. But those are things I typically do once I’ve picked up the girls and come home after work. Those things can wait.

I could use a couple thousand more days like today. Not necessarily sick, tho. Just quiet and curious. And gettin’ paid for it.

I know it won’t last…

Right now both girls are asleep on the purple couch downstairs! This has not happened for at least two years. Beenie has been out since around 11:30 a.m. and Mimi just went down around 45 minutes ago. Though I hear coughing, so Beenie will probably be up soon. Both girls are sickly. Beenie more than Mimi. We stayed home today from school/work. My throat hurts too.

I’m reminding myself what it is like to write during naptime. It is nice. I’ve had such an external existence for the past five or so months. No inner life. Just outward, doing what I’m told to do, what I have to do. No time to review anything or even write notes to friends, or talk on the phone. Now that we live in a different place, and most of the unpacking is done, maybe I can start reviewing rather than simply doing. Reflection helps to keep me with perspective. Energies only going outward seem damaging.

It was nice not getting in my car at 7:30 this morning, though not nice helping hacking children in middle of night. I am glad that I can offer my daughters comfort (and acetaminophen) when they’re not 100%. It just makes going to work the next day quite challenging. Lucky for me my throat hurts, too. Wouldn’t want to be having too much fun.

It is a sad state of affairs when a person craves illness so they can just hang out in their house. I like to see the sky. That is not something that is possible at work. Just during lunch. I like lunch. Gives a cave dweller a chance to absorb a little vitamin D.

Quick, descriptive

still here. contract on house. moving in april. must sell our house. clean and fix up this house. working new job. watching girls. they are watching too much tv while i pack. i’ll make it up later. stomach flu #2. right eye twitching. not eating means no dishes to wash. what do i keep, what do i toss? visualizing a painting studio/office. would like to see the ocean this summer. snow is damp outside, enough to make snow lady/girl/bunny. with carrots for eyes. ginger ale. lots of ginger ale. more soon… i miss you.

Hum

Friday I completed the first week of my new job. Full time. Me. In a basement somewhere in Baltimore County, MD. I am not going to give too many details of this job, since it would be in bad taste and judgment, especially when I’ve just started. It would probably be a different story if I’d been there for, like, twenty years or something, like MANY of the people I’ve encountered in the past week. But since it has been only five days, I’m gonna keep my big mouth shut on this blog.

In terms of how this new situation is affecting my daughters, their lives have not changed so much. Their father installed car seats in his car, so he now takes them to school in the mornings, which they love. They were already kind of used to staying at school till 3 or 4. Now I pick them up at 4:30, and half the time they want to stay later and play with their friends. The other half of the time, they’re looking pretty tired. As am I.

I think my transition is the difficult one. At least from my point of view. The past four years have been spent focused on how not to screw up the girls, but also how to not lose my self. This week I was feeling very lost. Identity as a mother, identity as an employee, identity as a wife. But the identity that should be the concrete (Beenie was asking me about concrete this week) foundation of all of those other identities, is sadly lack-luster.

Yes, my stress level went down at obtaining said job, but this week as I realized how it IS possible to have even less time with which to be a creative person than I had when I was home full-time with my infant daughters. I’d rather lose my artistic time to them than to a job. But this is what most parents of children struggle with, right? And they don’t have the 35 hour workweek that I do, or the ability to show up at 8 and leave at 4, like me. This is the least obtrusive full-time situation I can imagine, so I’ll go back Tuesday (thank you MLKjr/first federal holiday of my new job), bring my own coffee, continue trying to sort out the gigantic scope of work I was presented with last week, and look forward to getting my first paycheck on January 28th. Hopefully when my bank account swells, I’ll be able to get some perspective with all of this change. Another thing I will be able to do because of this job is help to get my family a mortgage on a house in the neighborhood where the public schools are free and good. Just like my parents did forty-two years ago when they were met with similar circumstances. My job is located in the very neighborhood we’re looking in, and once we’ve identified which house we can afford/like, that will be an additional benefit.

All of that said, I really just want to paint some paintings.

a little new year’s music

I LOVE the new year switcharoo. Fresh. Clean. Kind of like my digestive system this week. Everyone in my family (with the exception, somehow, of my typhoid mary daughters) got the dreaded stomach flu for Christmas this year. Which meant first thing on my birthday (Dec. 27th) I watched the contents of my innards fly from my body. Really, how much could there have been in there? LOTS. But the freaky weird thing is, friends, that this horrific purging was just what the doctor ordered. Like doing the Master Cleanser EXPRESS instead of the 10 day lemonade fast. I’ve no tolerance for such things as fasts–like too much the snacks. Feel bad when I don’t eat. But who can’t lose a few around the holidays? Skin’s clear and glowing, stomach only likes small portions now. It’s all good!

Was that too much information? Sorry. Sort of. Not really.

This is my final week of unemployment before starting my new job next week. I’m ready. Mimi and Beenie’s schedule will not be changing drastically. They will be getting to school 1/2 hour earlier in the morning than usual, and collected a 1/2 hour later in the afternoon. Not too bad, right? And my job seems like it will be somewhat flexible with when I show up in the morning. I’m shooting for 8-4, maybe 7:30 till 3:30 in the summer. Being a gov’t job, they may actually try to work with me on this. So this week will be spent doing things I don’t perceive myself being able to do easily once fully and gainfully employed:

  • having lunch with a friend in my neighborhood
  • shopping for girls’ outfits for dance recital
  • figuring out where to send them this summer and fall before they start kindergarten
  • figuring out how to scour my house clean enough to show to prospective buyers
  • finding what remains of my self, what she might wear to her new job, possibly adding to this ensemble of uniforms

That’s enough to think about at almost 4 a.m. after awakening from a coughing fit. Yes, I’m back on the couch drinking tea. And considering visiting the doc this week to get something to help out my sore throat and endless sinus annoyances. Winter is brutal on this mama’s upper respiratory system.

I am feeling empty when it comes to creating art. There is so much else pressing at the moment, I fear there is little left for this part of my life. Which is depressing, but reality. Mathematically, that makes reality depressing. Nothing anyone hasn’t already figured out.

But I’m not feeling particularly depressed, probably because there is an air of chaos and the unknown floating around my house, and there’s not much I like better than not knowing the future. Upheaval is what I do best. After that, settling into a routine is what I do best.

Good, fresh, clean as a whistle 2011 wishes to you, fiends.