Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Not What, But Who

Today tastes like spaghetti sauce, the kind someone's grandmother spent the weekend simmering on her stove with tomatoes she grew in her own little garden, spicy sausage, and plenty of garlic. Maybe with just a little red wine to give it some earth.

I come from a long line of practically creative people. That is, people who think/thought outside the box as a matter of survival, rather than as a means of ego satisfaction.1

So it should come as no surprise that I write (and have been published and paid for it, thenkyew veddy much) and that I design (and have been paid for it, thenkyew veddy much) and that I only regret that there are not enough hours in the day for me to pursue ALL of the things that I love.2

And it should come as no surprise, that my li'l brah, Lumpkin, should be interested in film. For, after all, what is film but another way to tell a story? A story in pictures and spoken words.

So Noir Chicken Studios is putting together a feature-length release film, In the Wind. And it turns out that they need a specific and particular prop--a scarf.

But not just a regular blue-light special scarf. As Lumpkin described it, "This is the Scarf of the Apocalypse. It needs to be kind of Mad Max meets Debbie Stoller."

And I thought it was hard getting suggestions for Adverb . . .

Fotunately, I own a little stash. (I can quit any time I want!!) Plastic bags are easy to come by . . . and rabbit skins aren't expensive. I have some nylon twine in the garage. And it's possible to make holes in knitting without adversely affecting the structural integrity (lace is stronger than it looks).

I've fired up the needles, and here's the first of the randomly-timed updates I've promised:

Not bad for a beginning.

1. The apocryphal story here concerns a great-aunt and her daughters left alone on the prairie while the men drove the cattle to Santa Fe. This was back in the day when we had open prairie, and just enough water and grazing for the livestock that provided livelihood.

Anyhoo, we had one grown woman and several girl children keeping house with the nearest neighbor many miles away. No phones. No police department. Nada.

A handful of sheepherders rode up to the barbed wire fence, and made to cut the fence so as to water and feed the flock off this woman's land. Not such a bad thing--except that the grass wouldn't grow back in time to feed the cattle. No cows, no money, no supplies--no family.

And as you've inferred, no menfolk, and no guns.

So great-aunt outfitted the girl children with every stick and pole she could find, and held up her broomstick to her shoulder, and they poked out the slit windows and cracked door, aiming them at the men and the sheep by the fence a couple dozen yards away.

And great-aunt called out as loudly as she could, "Now, don't fire 'till I give the word! You wait for me now!"

And the men and their flock left the barbed wire be, and turned around and rode off. History being written by the victors, we do not know if they were more afraid of getting shot . . . or of the crazy woman triying to kill them with a broomstick.

2. I love my money job. A lot. And it pays the bills without my having to chase it around and beat it over the head. I go to the office, and for about eight hours a day, I pursue someone else's agenda. I don't have to create a job every morning, once a week, several times a year. I don't have to market myself every day, write press releases every time I do something, or jury into shows or pack my studio to travel and teach.

Would I love to live by my art? Be a big name in a small pond? Yeeeeesssss, but. I've had a taste of that, and the answer is, "Not right now." I'm happy at the level I'm on--working a money job most of the day, and plying my trade a little at a time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dis Connect, Dat Connect

Today tastes like the cough drops I favor--the Smith Bros. lemon. They're like lemon drops that wandered through a mint field, lightly kissed with menthol, light and breezy. Almost more breath freshener than cough drop. (Menthol burns my mouth and sinuses--I'd rather eat wasabi! Especially mixed with some soy, on nice thin slices of ahi tuna . . . is it lunchtime yet?)

The Jungiverse1 has seen fit to drop a bunch of references to connectedness and e-mail and the internet (and how all this "connectedness" is taking us away from each other) in my in-box today. I know that this won't go away until I sit down and process it.

So, the quandry of the day is that cell phones, e-mail, and the Internet itself all foster communication. And yet, and yet, with all our e-friends whose blogs we read, all the email groups that we yatter on endlessly with, all these opportunities for connection leave us disconnected from those who are all around us. We seem to communicate more with glass screens between us, and less face-to-face and voice to voice.

And I got to thinking about that. That and the monkey trap that IS the Internet--I can spend hours with my fist trapped in this jug, clutching at grains of inspiration (Oook, I could do this!! Accckkk, I could do THAT! Yipe yipe yipe, this looks like FUN!) And all the while, I'm reading email, looking at sites, taking notes on another blog, and hours later, when I finally stand back up and let my gaze drop to the middle distance, I have . . . a handful of notes and a head full of ideas. BUT I HAVE NOT PRODUCED ONE DAMNED THING. And it's midnight or thereabouts, and I'm too tired to go and do anything with everything I have gleaned.

So I set it all aside for later. But we all know about the mythical later. Later never comes. Because tomorrow arrives, and I go back to the web, and I find a whole bunch more to ooook and ackk and yipe at.

Ironically, though, the internet is what got me into the art things I do. The 'net has given me names and places and people who do what I do (and some who do it better) that I would never have found on my own because of the circles I travel in. I have a caravan of practically arty creatives to hang with--that's NEVER been lacking in my life. But the web brought me to diverse groups of folken with balkanized interests (there's probably an email list somewhere for gay, lefthanded, vegan bookbinders who crochet) and that's where the real learning takes place. Not in the hourlong seminars where you can get a taste of what the doing of a thing is like, but the real in-depth stuff, where conversations can spin out for months regarding the terpsichore of pin-dancing.

So on the one hand, I have more stimulation than monkey mind can realistically handle. I have real people in my life, and virtual people in my life that I hold "real" conversations with, and with whom I trade "real" projects.

The problem, as I see it, is in navigating the fine line between happily stimulated and totally overwhelmed.

1. That Great Big Subconscious in the Sky. One the one hand, why would an omniscient and omnipotent eternal being take a personal interest in a moniscient monipotent limited being such as yours truly? But on the other, from where I stand, the Universe does INDEED revolve around moi.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Can Do/Must Do Quandry

Today tastes like red velvet cake with white chocolate mint frosting and a liver filling. Something is just not working here!

I intended to spend the weekend cleaning both studios and doing a batch of paper projects that really need to get moving. As in "deadlines whizzing past" moving. I had it all right'chere on my "to do" list.

Yup, I'm a list-maker. It helps me keep all these plates twirling. Except when it doesn't.

See Friday started out really really well. I rolled up my sleeves, and went into the fiber studio, and cleaned. Put away all the books (I can sit on the couch now). I put away all the projects I was "thinking about" (I can use my ironing board now). I repackaged the projects that had vomited everywhere (I can see the FLOOR now)! Good job, Spike!

So I knitted a bit till bedtime. Reward the behavior, right?

The next morning, I got up and got to it. I made ATC's that needed to go right now, I signed decos that had been stalled for weeks, I cleaned up and went for lunch. I was at a good stopping point, with the most pressing stuff off the list.

Then . . . well, then I sucked myself into doing something else after lunch, and then a friend was coming over for dinner, and then I was too busy socializing, and I don't drag my paper art along with me unless it's something very clean like binding books. ATC's, decos, any collage stuff stays in the studio for the most part. So there went Saturday. Roll all of the rest of Saturday's tasks onto the to do list. Sternly advise self that This Will Not Do, and resolve to get up and get going on Sunday.

Sunday--up bright and early, dressed in painty clothes, decide to hang out for just a minute. The paper studio door is noisy, don't want to wake guest napping on the couch.

Decide to read.

Half an hour later, guest is up and about, getting ready to take off and start her day. Continue reading on couch. Glance at to-do list, feel motivation shrivel up. Uh-oh.

Take nap. Read. Take nap. Read. Lather, rinse, repeat until 3:00 p.m. Sunday.


Out to the paper studio, sign three decos, package and post everything on the table.


Not what I wanted to get done, but clearly, I did not want to achieve what I thought I wanted to achieve when I made that list.

And then I read a post about writing craft instructions in Japanese.

See, in English we would say, "Warp the loom." In Japanese, this becomes, "In order for weaving to occur, the loom must be warped." (Yes, this does explain the Engrish we find when we read VCR instructions, but ignore that for a moment.)

Note that the desired result is placed first. Do you want weaving to occur? Then this is the step you must take. A last chance to re-think what you want to have happen, and what needs to be put in to make the mighty craft engine roar.

Do I want the studio to be clean? Do I want to make paper art stuff? Do I dare to eat a peach? What if I began phrasing my to do list more like this--with the result of the work right up front, so I can think about why I'm proposing this project. Not commands--"Clean the paper studio" but "In order for decos to be signed, space must be cleared." And if it is a desirable thing for decos to be signed, well, you know what your next step is.

In order for a blog to exist, posts must be written.


Friday, May 04, 2007

. . . And They All Stink (1)

Today tastes like butter, garlic, chocolate, and Brussels Sprouts. Did they close the state home for the Incurably Moronic and I didn't get the memo??

But that's another rant, and will pass as soon as I finish my coffee and forget about the idjits who receive driver's licenses in Cracker Jack boxes. There. There, it's leaving already.

I wanted to clamber up on my soapbox to talk about excuses. I'm as guilty as the next person as far as making excuses why I'm not doing what I will with my one true and precious life, and so far as I'm concerned, that's gotta stop. I figure if I notice this with other folks, it might make me more sensitive to when I start up with that--and thus, allow me to perceive the mote in my eye and DO something about it.

And what triggered this one? A member of a list posted about a number of things, including her desire to dye her hair pink and purple, but then closed with "But I'm too old and fat to do that."

Excuse me? Yes, pretty much every woman would like to be slimmer, and many women of a certain age would like to be younger, but what in the hell does either have to do with your choices in hairstyle/color?

Would it make you happy to do something outrageous with your appearance? Something that says you aren't dead yet? Then do it--ESPECIALLY if it's something as ephemeral as hair. Hair grows back, for pity grief. The worst that will happen is you will dye it pink and purple, and then hate it.

So what? Have it recolored, have it shaved off. It's not like a tattoo on your forehead. You've made no permanent commitment to it. It's HAIR. I'm hoping Manic Panic doesn't close its doors before I'm a white-haired little old lady, because I plan to color my white hair with the most vivid colors that are flattering to my skin. If I can wear cobalt/amethyst/acid green without looking washed out, then my HAIR will be cobalt. Or amethyst. Or acid green. And if I match my purse and shoes to my hair, I just hope that you understand it's a campy and ironic statement, rather than a "matchy-matchy" compulsion. Not that it matters to me whether you get it or not.

And that's just one place where people let their buts get in the way of realizing thier small dreams. If it's not going to hurt anyone, including yourself, then why aren't you doing it? Why are you sitting on your 'but' and wishing while the days of your one life pass by?

1. This must be a first--a footnoted title. See, I have a pal who has an even harder stance than mine when it comes to the pity pot (as in shit or get off the . . .) Whenever someone says, "I would, but . . " her response is always, "Everyone has a but, and they all stink."