calculatus eliminatus


Everyone loves you when you’re a freelancer. Or temporary. There’s a certain Je ne sais quoi about someone who isn’t in the office from 9-5 every day, won’t always be available for meetings unless you give them lots of notice. I’m still the new girl in town. I know it. I see the tired eyes of the full-time office workers. My eyes are tired, too — not from sitting under florescent lights all day, knowing there is no end to this existence — but from being woken up two times every night to get certain 3 year old ladies to the potty. Still, though, I am not yet a known entity. In many ways I don’t want to be known, or owned, as the case may be. I like being hourly. Some weeks I can make lots of moolah, hopefully balancing out the weeks I just can’t do anything because my girls have infected me with numerous illnesses. I like not knowing. As long as I complete my projects when I say I will, I hope things will continue to run smoothly.

That’s what I’ve been up to, ya know. Working. The ladies have been going to school from 9:15-3, MWF. That gives me four solid hours to either go into the office to work, or work from home. I like both. What has changed is this: time they are spending in school has transferred from time I spend cleaning the house, or going grocery shopping, or writing my blog, to doing web stuff, trying to make a buck. Attempting to appear bona fide. For real.

I miss this, though. I miss having an hour or two, once or twice a week to tidy up, drink a cup of coffee, think about stuff, by myself. I lost this part of my life this past summer when daily naps disappeared, then again, when I started working more and they started staying in school longer so I could work longer, so they could stay in school longer… uh oh.

Nothing creative has happened in weeks. Nothing creative will happen again, until it does. Until it must. I’m going to go downstairs, get a big glass of water, take the last pill of my latest course of antibiotics, and lie in bed. No cocktails, no stretching or thinking. Just laying down on my bed. Waiting for someone to wake me up to piss. I am happy last night/this morning revealed nothing more than a light dusting of snow. Thanks, mother nature. And I am also glad my daughters are healthy again, back in school, and generally wonderful. Both stripped five minutes before we went upstairs for the bedtime ritual tonight, ‘swimming in the pool’, which meant jumping naked off the purple chair in the living room, onto a pile of pillows they set up as ‘slides’. Brrrr!

Edges

The flower painting, in an earlier iteration, 36"x36"

Eight days since I’ve had a chance to quietly sit and type something longer than a lame-assed fuckbook status blob. A pathetic existence. Though the past eight days haven’t been particularly horrible. Just too busy to focus and type, which is horrible in a way I suppose. No, really. The time has been spent working, getting medical things taken care of, grocery shopping, playing with the girls. Driving to North Carolina, about 8 hours away, for Thanksgiving, staying with spouse’s family, visiting with his sister and parents and Beenie and Mimi’s cousin, Sophia. Making gluten/dairy-free pies and stuffing, chili and cornbread, chicken soup/stew. Lots of cooking. Lots of eating. I made a pumpkin pie yesterday, just because I never got enough of a chance to have pie for breakfast from the T’giving feasts. The one sitting in my fridge at the moment has a butter crust. Mmmmm… butter.

I am feeling a little bit crazy since I’ve had so little time to myself the past week or so. Last night and this morning I got a teenie bit of “me” time. Read about meditation without actually doing any before bed, then this morning when I woke up, I jumped into clothes and headed to the painting studio for the first time in what seems like two weeks. Splendid. The big flower piece is shaping up. The background is pink, which I think will glow once I apply the rustier, earthier layer on top of it. Defined a few edges today, in some of the petals, added a small, fluffy, feather-like element at the top of the piece, which should help balance the composition. Before there was just a little bit too much empty space on top. Now it makes sense. The feathery shape will become more a part of the background, methinks, but some kind of presence is needed at the top right. I was also able to get real aquariffic on the puddle painting this morning. Don’t know how much more I can describe the act. Suffice to say phalo green and blue were factors. I may be able to finish that piece by springtime. But who knows.

Puddle painting a few weeks ago. It changed significantly today. More green.

I got ANOTHER rejection letter, this time from a recent art grant application. For a few minutes I thought I might actually have gotten it — was able to semi-articulate my love and inspiration derived from Camera Morte, how I would spend the grant monies (time and space), and all of that crap. Am I barking up a dead horse? Is it possible Camera Morte is not an inspiration — no — LIFE ALTERING experience, like I think it is? I will not be beaten down on this, you jerks. I know it is something great, even if you don’t. Hell, add it to the pile of one million rejections. IT DOESN’T AFFECT ME! Well, actually, it does kind of bum me out. It would be so great to get a little extra something for art supplies and studio rental, or a nod from my arts community. The next grant deadline coming up is in early December, and I’m tempted to ignore it, since there isn’t a huge amount of new work to show. Why waste my time? I have so little time to spend on that kind of crap, it would be better spent making more art. Oh I don’t know.

I spent this morning, from 9:15 till 11:15 painting. I already wrote about that, eh? It was just… so… great! It is almost better to not have excess free time. Now when I go to paint, I contemplate the task before me, decide what color/s to work with in the next hour or two, then focus and paint. No time wasted, since there is absolutely no time to waste. It is baffling how much of my youthful artistic energy was spent NOT making a goddam thing, but just sitting around thinking or talking about ideas of what to do. Yes, I painted lots then, too, but I had few time constraints, and if it tickled my fancy, I could paint for a morning, take a lunch break, then paint the rest of the day. Hours and hours. Incredible luxury. Even when I was working crazy hours doing floral design, I still had plenty of extra time to waste. When you have children, there is no time to waste, unless you think time spent doing the parenting thing with them is a waste, which I do not. I’m talking idle hands, friends. With a capital ‘I’. Full ego immersion. At this point, what’s left of my ego has cheap sneaker footprints on it, and it is covered in yogurt and ketchup. Good riddance, I say. Me and me had plenty of good times. I think I like the more recent me better, though I am far more depressed than I used to be. But also, far less tortured. More, especially of late, truly enjoying communicating with my daughters, all three + three years of them. Making art helps, working helps, getting them into a preschool environment where I am not part of the goings on helps. Regular exercise would also, tremendously, help. That’s next on the list.

Do you ever think about the edges of things? In a way, when I’m painting, it is almost all I think about. How one color or line or color field meets another. Is the edge flat? or does it have a Raw Umber layer beneath an Indigo layer. Does the space betwixt layers vibrate? Is the edge alive?

The stupid and the tired

Day four of preschool. Mimi’s weeping now elicits my handing her to a teacher and running for the door. Last time we went and she started crying and screaming, a teacher came over and said “whenever you’re ready”, signaling for me to go. I’m a fast learner. This morning seemed like a bad one in terms of being one teacher short, leaving only two teachers for 19 kids. Yikes! Those are worse odds than I deal with every day. And those ladies are older, probably 60+. God bless ’em. I toyed with volunteering today or Monday to help out since the other, younger, energetic teacher is going to be out that day, too, but thought better.  I’M ONLY ONE WOMAN FOR CHRISSAKES!

This leaves me, right now, with one hour before I leave to pick them up. I have deep hopes they will start begging to stay longer… first with lunch, then for extended play at the end of the day… two hours isn’t long enough. But it does almost equal what I used to get when they napped, so I’ll take it. I’ll take what I can get. Now I must:

  1. find a job
  2. find arts funding
  3. cut my nails
  4. do laundry
  5. buy more milk
  6. mop the kitchen floor
  7. put the dishes away in the dishwasher
  8. vacuum
  9. make hummus
  10. take a nap
  11. write one book
  12. write and illustrate another book
  13. figure out where I can start painting

I am seriously toying with the nap idea, but here I am, writing a dumb post on 20/20. No naps for the stupid and tired.

Well?!

leaf2
It went well. If that’s what you’re asking, which I assume it is. The girls first day of preschool went well. Morning, actually. 9:15-12 noon. Beenie fought as hard as she could getting dressed in the morning, as I knew she would. Mimi made at least two costume changes as I knew she would. All predictable. Woke up 45 minutes before we were to leave, typical. Nobody had time or focus to eat brekky, of course, so I rustled up some half-eaten snack bowls from their backpack of snacks that go everywhere, put some soy milk in their sippy cups, gave ’em each a cookie I made the day before, and off we went. Made it in the front door, spouse came for the beginning and left as class began, and I sat outside the classroom for one hour or so after they started up, making sure to be available in case of emergency. There was none. In all the hullabaloo of getting out the door in the morning, I neglected to bring the bag with my driver’s license and other important items in it, so came home to retrieve it*. Got back to the school about forty minutes too early, so sat back down to await the end of class. The kids were on the way up the staircase from running around in the church basement which is also called the “gym”, the space where they run around and play if it is rainy or inclement outside, which Friday was. Beenie caught sight of me and came over and told me to come into class, so I told her to go in and I’d wait for her and Mimi outside till it was time to leave. Mimi saw me, too, came over and I told her the same thing. They both went back into their class with the other kids and the door shut behind them. Five minutes later an excessively loud and familiar scream emanated from the classroom, quickly followed by Miss Donna’s face, then Mimi’s red face. I scooped her up and we walked and I tried to talk her down. It was because she saw me that she got upset, that plus she was tired and probably overwhelmed by the whole morning. I can understand. The teacher had us come back into the room with Mimi after she calmed down and the teary little girl sat on my lap with me till the end of class. She was fine. Beenie was totally not freaked out, knew I would be back for her and them and was involved playing with some of the blocks. Then she was also very interested in some of the dress-up high heels and it was hard to get her out of the classroom when it was time to go.

Not bad for a first day! Neither napped when we got home, which I had hoped would happen. Though falling asleep during the day in the car is now the only way they will nap these days, so I will try to make sure things are lined up perfectly for this to happen in the future. I don’t believe they are aware this “school” thing is something that will be happening every other day for the remainder of the fall into winter. They will find out soon enough. I’m gonna have to figure out what I will do from 9:30 till 12 noon this coming Monday. Does sitting in a dark room, banging my head against a wall count as doing something?

*It was here I had my obligatory weep fest… where did the time go? Weren’t they just born? How are they old enough to be in school? They’re suddenly so big! Who stole my little babies!!! Bla bla bla. The bittersweet mama crying continued off and on for the rest of the day and night. I may be over it, maybe not, maybe never. The next important milestone is for me to be able to focus my attentions on useful things and not have this time when they are occupied three mornings a week wasted solely on cleaning the house and looking for a full-time job. I mean, yes, these things need to happen, I suppose. But I also need to try to figure out who I am after three solid years of being available 24/7 to these small creatures for everything. I don’t think its an empty shell, but I know it isn’t who I was three years ago, either.

Pizza, strawberries and chips

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It is 4:13 a.m. I just deleted the paragraph I had written about how I want out of Facebook, but am still mildly interested but more just annoyed. Wow. That sentence described what I wrote two minutes ago using a whole paragraph. Instant karmic editing.

I was also wondering why I am awake at this ungodly hour of the morning. Some people might look at this as an opportunity to write something real, like a book, or to work on some art. I guess I could do that. But I must be a semi-functioning parent to two almost three year old, highly energetic and cheeky girls tomorrow. So not having a good night’s sleep is bad for all. Luckily my parents are scheduled to appear tomorrow morning, at which time I will disappear to somewhere else and pretend to be childless for a few hours. My patience is boundless when I get a few moments away. Which isn’t too often these days.

What about the girls? I used to write so much about them. Now it’s all about me me me. Boring. But therapeutic.

Mimi: Potty trained? YES! This young lady is so cute. She’s been fairly easygoing of late, which I cherish, because when she’s in a mood, look out. She is constantly “going shopping” to the grocery store, with her little stroller with Zoe in it, to pick up some pizza, strawberries and chips. This is all she purchases at the grocery store. Fine with me! I love all that food. She is a classic younger sibling in many ways. She really fucks with Beenie. Takes things that are blatantly hers, engages the chase. Instantly, Beenie starts to cry huge, thick glycerin tears. Her conversation is clear and plentiful, though I wonder if anyone other than my husband and I can understand her. Probably. She does most of the talking in public situations. Mimi also says things like “I think not”, when asked if she’s peed in her bed overnight. Classy.

Beenie: Potty trained? YES! I love Beenie. She is on my last nerve this past week or so. She WANTS lots of things, and by virtue of her wanting it, fully expects to receive it. Mostly without so much as a please. Though when she really wants something, she starts a sentence with “Oh please oh please mommy”. Fantastic. Beenie is extremely defiant of late. I don’t mind it in theory, but after telling her to step away from something she has no business being near for safety and because I said so multiple times, I feel my blood pressure rise and get pissed. I realize I’ve been raising my voice, or yelling, at her a lot lately. I had to stop myself and tell her how much I love her in case she forgot. I just don’t want her to get hurt and she must listen to me. Oh the complicated relationship we already have. I love her to bits though. She is smart and intuitive and sensitive. She is the running commentary in the back seat of the car, describing all that passes by. While Mimi is enveloped by her purple blanket and sucks her thumb. Should I worry about sucking thumb? I remember getting much comfort from the act. She’ll probably be shamed out of it at some point. Maybe not by me.

Autumn has already cooled off Maryland. We had a fantastic low 70’s day with plenty of sunshine and clouds. I love the fall. Happy September!

Lucky

What a shit day. And not literally. Just really crappy. How in God’s name did my own mother raise THREE brats! I now understand much of why she has memory problems, attention span issues, and an inability to complete sentences. JUST LIKE ME. I swear today was one of the worst in recent history. And aside from an early shark attack, which I still am carrying some fury from, I’m not sure it was them that made it bad. Sure, they didn’t listen to me, at all, but that’s nothing new. It has something to do with the way I woke up this morning. This morning and for the rest of the day I was not meant for motherhood.

At least I wasn’t kidnapped when I was eleven and forced into motherhood in the worst way imaginable. This is a horrible life sometimes. Mine is only occasionally annoying and tiring.

2:30 a.m.

sky
That’s right. Two thirty. Dark outside. Family sleeping. Cats sleeping. Normal people sleeping.

It has been a strange ten days since I last wrote, here. After eight months of me applying to many, many jobs, suddenly within a 24 hour period of time, three people think I may be employable. I don’t want to go into details quite yet, or maybe ever. The interweb is a vast place and a person isn’t so hard to find out about. Not that I have anything to hide, of course. OF COURSE. I’m a mother, for chrissake. How bad can I be? I’m more baffled at the timing of the responses to my resumes and online applications is all. Feast or fucking famine. But that’s always the case with jobs isn’t it? This year isn’t exactly the greatest time to be looking for work. There are jobs. But there are more people applying for these jobs at this moment in time than there are normally. Duh. I know, it’s called a recession. I had a woman from a local public television station call me in response to my cover letter and resume a few weeks back who said over two hundred people applied to the job I had responded to. I told her I was surprised how quickly she responded to my application and she said the last minuted-ness of my submission worked in my favor (I guess she’d had an ad for the job up for weeks or months). And she thought my resume was clean and the cover letter well-written, too. I might’ve pursued this position, because it did sound cool, but the location was outside Baltimore city proper, probably 45 or so minutes away. And that’s just too far considering the ladies also have to be dropped at their preschool beforehand. Plus they needed someone right away. Plus it was full-time and I am really trying not to traumatize them more than necessary this coming fall. Three full days will be plenty at first, which is what it will be come September. Woah. We’re all gonna need help with that transition.

Here are some of the reasons I haven’t had a chance to write much lately:

  1. The girls have been napping only sporadically, and I frequently stay out later in the afternoons because I just don’t feel like forcing them to sleep. Though they will pass out in the car if it is between 1:3o and 4. So if we are out, sometimes I just drive around and listen to the radio for some time to myself. Hard to type and drive at the same time.
  2. I got some crazy kind of 24 hour stomach flu which took me down hard for, um, 24 hours.
  3. Then after the freakish unsolicited cleansing, my brain followed with a full on migraine which lasted two days, and would probably still be in my head now if it weren’t for pseudoephedrine, which now must be purchased from the pharmacy because a bunch of meth doo doo heads ruined this excellent decongestant for the rest of us.
  4. Feast of job possibilities. Then trying to figure out the best scenarios for getting girls to and from childcare.
  5. Two pool outings. With the ladies, who I now know love the baby pool. I managed to get a terrible sunburn on my back on the first pool outing because I am not used to exposing my body to the sun. I actually forgot that I didn’t put sunscreen on my now peeling back. Yuck and owie.
  6. Went to the aquarium where Beenie did not try to jump into a large tank, thankfully, but where Mimi, who now doesn’t listen to me for a cottonpickin’ second ever, anywhere, ran way way far ahead of me while I was also trying to keep an eye on Beenie and it was fucking crowded and I don’t know what to do with that child. One thing I do know, though, is I’m not taking her there or anywhere without lots of extra grownups. We’re hitting the zoo Tuesday and she will be strapped into the stroller if she runs away from me again. I hate that, I fucking hate it. She could get lost or hurt and she thinks it is a big game and I feel completely powerless. I need a book to deal with this situation. I haven’t needed a book for a few years now. But this issue I don’t have the type of common sense knowledge to fix. I am considering some kind of invisible fence scenario for this wayward child.
  7. Moved the octopus painting to my brother’s place so I could actually work on it. Now that my studio no longer exists, there may be a number of satellite, temporary studios popping up at people’s houses in the area, depending on how long these imaginary people can watch my children while I inhale turpentine fumes and mush around a bunch of oil paint with a brush.

It is now 3:00 a.m. The decongestant is keeping me up. I knew it would.

I haven’t had any alcohol in a week. I can’t remember why. It isn’t like I am a lush or anything, but I do like a cocktail every few nights after Mimi and Beenie retire for the evening. Which has been kind of late lately. Why did I stop, anyway? Just lost a taste for the stuff. Booze is a strange thing. Such beautiful stemware, bottles, limes, lemons, cranberry juice, seltzer… mmmm. The accoutrements surrounding a cocktail is what makes it so special. As my dear husband likes to say, when he occasionally embibes, “I’m going to mix myself a liquor drink”. He’s partial to the gin and tonic in the summertime, and when the weather changes, a thimblefull of good scotch does the trick. I’m a scotch fan, too, since a dab really will do ya. Just a taste. My summer drink of late has been a nice vodka drink. Just one. Fruity, refreshing, sometimes with a straw. It is nice to have a summer drink.

Don’t I have some special story to relay to you, my handful of readers? Precious handfull. Got through the NY Times magazine today. That’s something. Chilled out in the house today since yesterday was jam packed. Sundays should be spent quietly. There’s a meditation center nearby that I am considering as a possible place to visit once a week or so. I have never meditated, but think it would be really hard to sit still in quiet and focus on something without sleeping, which is why it seems enticing to me. I would like my head to be a quiet place. Quietly chaotic is fine, too. I’m missing the quiet part, tho. And I know it is in there. I sort of meditated today when I went to the gym. My three month summer membership is up in a month. When I actually make it there it is enjoyable. An hour of rowing or doing the eliptical thing, doing a few of the circuit training machines or the bike. Then some stretches and sit ups. Nothing fancy. Sometimes I’ll even do a little jump rope. My brain does have the occasion to empty and then refill with the nice chemicals that make me feel good and kind of dreamy. I like those chemicals. Who doesn’t?

The deadline for entering some work in the Maryland Council for the Arts individual grant application looms. I think it is less than a week, now. Good thing I waited till the last minute. Again. And wonder why I bother. Then figure I have nothing to lose. Maybe I’ll create some little watercolors or collages special for the submission, what with all the extra time I have. Shit. I’m awake at 3 something in the morning. I should do it now. Or I should go back to bed. Bed. I like bed. Nighty night.