Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What Do You Know?

Today tastes like tart tatin, like truffled honey, like fois gras. What a nice day! Lush and sweet and earthy all at the same time.

Looking forward to the four day weekend. Planning to spend all the available time in my paper studio, winding up projects. When I cleaned this last time, I boxed most everything up and then labelled the boxes so I could make my to-do list simpler. I have a box for collabarative art projects ("Other People's Art AKA the Guilt Box"), a box for my personal stuff ("My Next Big Thing"), and a box of collabarative ATC backgrounds ("Jam Stock").

So far, I have nearly emptied the Guilt Box. I did decos last weekend, which cleared an enormous logjam for me. I stopped doing decos this summer. The game just wasn't worth the candle. But, of course, there were some projects I'd agreed to take, and there they were, glaring up at me everytime I walked past my workbench.

And now, they fly free.

So--what do I know?

In this context, I have learned that my listmaking tendencies slow me down. See, I start a list of stuff to do, and before I know it, I have scheduled every single minute of my weekend with stuff to do. Which is fine when everything goes as expected.


So I wind up with no more than half my list done, and then there's stuff that pops us that needs to get done, and oh, there's the things I wannado . . . and, and, and.

So one of the best tips I've found is to write no more than three things on your to-do list. And then do those three, pause for a modest celebration of your accomplishments, then write three more. Or take the day off and do what you wannaddo, because, after all, you DID the things on your to-do list.

Example--last weekend, I had three things I wanted to have done before Monday morning rolled around. I wanted to have completed the knitting on one Linus binkie (two looooooong garter stitch borders to be picked up and done), I wanted to have the decos in the Guilt Box ready to fly, and I wanted to finish a set of ATC's and charms for swappage. I put them on my list, posted the list on the calendar (what DID we do before Post-It notes?) and went to town.

It doesn't sound like much. Three things in a sea of thousands, right? But I got all three done in plenty of time to read and go out for brunch and loll around. And now I have a list of three more that I'm chewing through. (The ATC's in the guilt box need to be finished, the Linus binkie needs to be made ready to present, and I have a book form I want to experiment with. Do you have any idea HOW LONG I've been putting these off? Three things at a time may be small progress--but it IS progress.)

So--I know that lists are a valuable tool for me. I know that I can get a lot done in small bites. I know that I need to keep my focus on those small bites, because otherwise, I get overwhelmed easily.

And I know that when I'm overwhelmed, I wind up spinning like a Sufi dancer. And nothing gets done.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What's Possible?

Today tastes like liverwurst and truffles . . . oh wait, that was this morning's breakfast and last night's dinner. But at the same time, metaphorically apt--meaty, earthy, organic and satisfying.

One of our favorite restaurants held a paired tasting menu last night, featuring truffles. It was almost like finally eating with the Chairman on Iron Chef--two well-known chefs about town each presenting their vision of an item with common ingredients, centered around truffles because it's truffle season. White Alba truffles, that is. I was really looking forward to last night because I could finally decide which I preferred--black or white? Decisions, decisions, I know. (And the answer is . . . black. The flavor's more intense.)

But it was a glorious meal, nontheless. Even though we did not get to bed until almost midnight (on a SCHOOL NIGHT!!) and I packed breakfast to take to work with me, it was a wonderful evening. We swapped foodie stories and restaurant reviews with a couple at our table, and wound up exchanging e-dresses and a vague promise of dinner together someplace after the confetti settles from the new year.

And I think of our conversation, just Gareth and I, out on the patio in the balmy November air. Where we talked about priorities and Christmas lists, and I realized that more and more, I want experiences rather than stuff. I want stuff to make stuff with; I want the experience of having made the thing. I don't necessarily want the thing itself.

And I think about that, and I think about the fabulous dinner we had (and we're going back for New Year's Eve, to that same restaurant. I made reservations last night, just to be sure we'd have a seat.)

And I re-read the query of today's post above, and the only answer I find is: just about anything. In the immortal words of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, "You just gotta decide, girl, and then you let me know."

Cue the riff.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Where are you stuck?

Today tastes like essence of celery seed, wormwood, and cinnamon oil, served on a bed of raw garlic. Total meltdown.

It's been an era in and of itself (Meltdown Man??? Carrying a cellphone, an iPod, and a quadruple shot espresso?) this past weekend. Got done with a roller coaster week at work (busy. Getting demand packages out and out and out, telling stories, kicking ass, and chewing gum. And they make me spit out the gum when I walk through the doors, so that only leaves two things to do . . .) and looking forward to dinner with friends on Friday night. Unwind. Relax. Watch some movies, do some knitting and think about cleaning the paper studio so I can do some work this winter while it's nice and cool.

Then we pop by the house to put some wine for dinner in the fridge (hurrah for restaurants without liquor licenses and no corkage fees!!!) and there's a message on our answering machine. Or rather, half a message. The first half of a collect call.

Gareth and I look at each other. If it was an emergency, wouldn't they call our cell phones? Even if they had to call collect for some unknown reason, most anyone who knows us has our cell digits, and knows that's the fastest way to get hold of us . . . say, the jails out here only let you call collect. And right about then, the phone rang again.

Crisis number one: a friend of ours had been arrested for something we thought was over. Note bene: check all the statutes before running a business, and get at least three opinions from legal experts. Loopholes can turn into hangman's nooses.

So . . . her husband currently does not have a land line, and you cannot call a cell phone number from inside the jails. Ours was the only land line number she knew cold, because of course, she doesn't have access to her cell phone. Or a charger, even if she did. We spent a bunch of our weekend playing operator so she and husband could communicate (long story short, he's not able to visit her as he's a co-defendant in the matter we thought was more or less settled and waiting for grand jury.)

Crisis number two: We got to dinner Friday, and another friend had a sudden death in her close-knit family. She needed a shoulder to cry on, so we spent a large part of the remainder of Friday holding her hand and patting her head.

Crisis number three: Remember when the truck broke down twenty miles outside of Globe? Well, the garage was able to fix the truck, but had no one available to drive it any closer to town. So we got up at o'work thirty on a Saturday, and drove over to Globe (ninety minutes one way) to fetch our errant vehicle back. Not so much of a crisis, but that is one boring drive. And it eats up most of the morning, even when you get up early and hit the road right away.

Where am I feeling stuck after this weekend? I'm feeling stuck because every time I walk through the paper studio where I park my car, I'm reminded that I need to get the place in order for me to work there. I'm not avoiding making art by wanting to clean, I'm wanting to make some flat clear physical space the size of my glueboard in order to have a place to make art. I'm feeling stuck because I think of it on my way to and from work, and while I'm at work. In other words, I contemplate this activity when I'm safely time- or space-bound from actually STARTING this project.

Clever me.

No more. Starting tonight, I'm going to FlyLady my studio. Fifteen minutes a night, finding places for all the ephemera and stuff I've collected over the summer, sorting through things that have been sitting ragged and fallow for months uhm, years, tossing dried paints and glues and re-arranging whatever needs to be looked after. I have deadlines at the end of the month for charms and ATC's, I have jam ATC's that have been held up for far far too long, I have communal projects I said I'd do that need to be moved NOW.

So--stuck point identified (for now) and plan of action prepared. Off to implement!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What DO you want?

Today tastes like Tootsie Pops and gumdrops and those awful peanut butter taffy things that come wrapped in orange and black waxed paper. How can they be so greasy and so sweet at the same time? You'd think one would eliminate the other.

As threatened discussed earlier, we're back to the introspective thing before Excessmas kicks in and the Adverbial Celebration is swiftly upon us. I think of the turn between Samhain and Yule as a gathering in, lying fallow, winding up time. A time to see what you have reaped, and decide what you will sow in order to get more of what you want the next time 'round.


What DO you want?

Once the easy answers are out (a million dollars, a Barbie body, a dream life) and the answers your mother would want to hear are out (peace on earth, to heal the sick and injured, to be a stellar yet humble example of all that is best in humanity) then what's left? What do you want?

I want to get clear with my desires. I want to know that what I want is truly what I want--not what I should want or what someone else wants me to want, but an intrinsic desire. I want to know what I want, and how much it will cost, and to be okay with that cost. The cost of losing weight is exercising and skipping dessert more often than not, is changing what I eat and how much I eat and watching how I plate the healthy "good food." It's a cost measured in time spent and conscious, thoughtful choices made, rather than grabbing the fun stuff right now.

The hard part for me has always been being okay with the costs. It costs X dollars, Y hours, Z effort to achieve the desired result. I'll spend it, and get the result, but then spend time fretting about the time/money/effort expended. I'll eat the cream puff, and then castigate myself for the excess sugar and fat consumed.

Right now, I'm thinking about a fiber festival in Washington this spring. I'll have the time off, no problem, I can certainly ask for this as my big Excessmas gift from Gareth (assuming I can get the classes I want to take) and if I get my choices when registration opens, this will expand my repetiore and feed what I do. Soul food, as it were. Experiences don't require dusting.

And yet and yet and yet . . . there's airfare, and hotel room, and food, and the costs of the classes. And there's other things that need to get done that will take money, and there's other things that we want to get done that will take time.

I want to be rid of this ambivalence. To be rid of second-guessing myself. I want to own my decisions wholeheartedly.