Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A few memes for the day....

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things You Want, but Don't Need
  1. A winning lottery ticket.
  2. A hot tub (which I doubt I'd use very often if at all, I just want it because it sounds neat; and how pathetic is that?)
  3. A maid service (for one thing, most of what needs done is tidying, and I wouldn't let them touch it anyway - if they could magically do what I wish I were doing...)
  4. A personal chef
  5. A year, all expenses paid, month-long retreats in various exotic locations (Ireland, something in Spain, Italy, maybe something near the Grand Canyon....) alternating with months at home. And my job still waiting for me after, please.
  6. A pound of maple sugar. (I really don't need this one. I'd be embarrassed to admit how fast I'd eat it all!)
  7. A steady, infinite supply of the fake water I'm playing with. I'm having such a blast. (I am getting myself some - I think I need some - but it's too expensive to do everything I think of. Alas! And I probably don't need to do all of that, either, it just sounds fun.)
  8. A hybrid car. (Though that will be on the consideration list if we need to replace one, but I don't need to get one before that point - and maybe not then.)
  9. Someone else to assemble and place the bookshelves.
  10. Teleportation as a viable form of travel for vacations and commutes.

It's hard thinking of things because, mostly, if it's something that's worth wanting I get it and if it's not it fades. So if the items seem improbable (or, in the case of #10, possibly impossible), well...oh well! :)

Question of the Day: What if tomorrow, instead of being March 1st, was actually a special type of leap year day. It was one that wouldn't be documented anywhere in time, and you can do whatever you want on this day (anything legal), what would you do?

I'd sleep in. And then I'd pay the bills, do some laundry, work on the AW exercises, play with the fake water project I have going now, paint the ivy bowl a bit more, and otherwise vegetate, read, and play World of Warcraft. I might write some poetry; I might not; but it would be a day for play and rest.

I suppose I "should" say I'd clean the computer room, but - I wouldn't. I'll do that again at some point (I am making progress) but right now I'd love a day off and it wouldn't involve any cleaning (unless the urge struck unexpectedly, anyway).

Inspiration: Music

I have so little mentioned it, one could conclude that music isn't that important to me. In truth, it is very important to me. I treasure music; I enjoy singing, though I'm not sure I'll ever put in the effort I'd need to perform. (Loving singing, and loving it enough to go over and over and over a song until it is performance-worthy, are two very different things. I had rather enjoy it than seek to perfect it; I don't wish to spend that much time on it.)

And I love to listen to music. My tastes run largely to pop-rock and folk-rock, but with diversions here and there. Among the artists I especially enjoy are Billy Joel and Suzanne Vega, both large enough names most people have heard of them (though how many reading this have heard Vega's songs "Rosemary" and "Gypsy"?). I also quite like Loreena McKennitt (the Book of Secrets album in particular, and The Visit), Great Big Sea, the Kingston Trio, Judy Collins...you get the idea. (Or, if you don't and you're intrigued, perhaps you'll check them out!)

Some songs I especially like:

  • Anna Nalick's "Breathe" (So cradle your head in your hands / and breathe, just breathe)
  • Billy Joel's "The Stranger" (Well we all have a face / that we hide away forever / and we take it out and show ourselves / when everyone has gone)
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash, "Southern Cross" (When you see the southern cross for the first time / you understand now why you came this way / 'cause the truth you might be running from is so small / but it's as big as the promise, the promise of the coming day....)
  • Dan Fogelberg's "Leader of the Band" (A lonely child alone and wild / a cabinet-maker's son / his hands were meant for different work / and his heart was known to none....) For that matter, most of the songs on The Innocent Age, a two-CD set that includes this lovely song (unfortunately on the same track with the Washington Post March, which is nice, but sometimes you just want one of the two).
  • Duran Duran, "Rio"
  • Eagles, "Hotel California"
  • Echo's Children, "Wings" and "They Spoke With Their Hands"
  • Electric Light Orchestra, the album Time, which is effectively a story of time travel told in music. "Twilight" for example. (The visions dancing in my mind / the early dawn, the shades of time / twilight crawling through my windowpane....)
  • Great Big Sea, "French Perfume" and "Boston and St. John's" (neither of which is easy to pull pieces out meaningfully).
  • Irene Cara, "Fame" (from the soundtrack for the show).
  • Jewel, "Enter From the East". Of course, classic would be "Hands" which is also lovely, but "Enter From the East" is a gem I seldom hear recognized. (A strange fruit fell / and struck me to the core / my heart became a single flame / it wanted nothing more.)
  • Jill Sobule, "Karen By Night" and "Good Person Inside"
  • Josh Groban, "You Raise Me Up"
  • Judy Collins' performance of any number of songs, including "Suzanne" and "The City of New Orleans". (I adore her album Forever. Yes, I'm a sucker for best-of collections. They exist for a reason, usually.)
  • SinĂ©ad Lohan, "No Mermaid" (I was dancing in the middle of the desert / you said we'll burn under the hot sun / I said I'd rather be the color of pleasure / than watch like you from under the thumb.)

Music is so very easy to follow, and the right music can lead to the right frame of mind so quickly and easily - it's a joy. The right music, of course, depends on the moment.

What are some artists and songs that you like?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Inspiration (Aspiration?): Mindfulness.

My typical morning involves a bit of sleeping in as I dislike to get up, but once I do get up I rocket around like a madcap thing, especially on weekdays. And in the process, I miss a lot. I know this. This morning I got up, intending to write my morning pages for 20-30 minutes. However, by the time I had my contacts in it was 6:10. Then I realized the trash was not out so I did that and prepared my breakfast. Now it was 6:20. I still needed to brush my hair and prepare most of my lunch - and write this post. And I was sure I could get all of that done, except the morning pages. If I did those I might leave later than 7:00, and might be later to work than I wanted to be. This kind of cramming stuff into a narrow span of time is sadly normal for my life.

(Why'd I pick this post? Simple. If I leave by 7, the traffic is much better, so I really don't want to leave later. The post is more adjustable in length - and I can write the pages at work on a break, but I don't access this site from there.)

Mindfulness means to live in the moment. I'm usually living the future or the past - guilt, or thinking ahead. More and more it's thinking ahead, but I'm still often not in the now (except when doing 'thinking' activities - reading blogs is 'now' - but not physically 'here'). This morning I tried to slow down and appreciate things. Or at least, slow down my mind. I wasn't moving any slower. I was thinking slower - trying not to anticipate ahead to breakfast, whether to write morning pages or this post, running late, etc. I listened to the birds call "come out come out" in the black pre-dawn air. I watched light tremble in individual raindrops - left from an earlier rain, it was not falling when I went out - that clung to the bare branches of the maple tree, which stands near the street-light. I looked up and down the street, recognized the stillness, the quiet resting of the morning.

It was lovely.

Sometimes all we need is the reminder to think about what we are doing right now, as we do it. Not what we will be doing. (This doesn't mean don't write down ideas for it; but to not have done it five times in your head before you ever even do it...anyone else done that?)

There's a movement trying to slow down the frenetic pace of modern living, called the Slow Living movement (actually there are several related ones, but Slow Living will turn up a fair amount of stuff when searched). But I'm not sure I'm ready for that since it implies I have to cut things out of my life and I rather like my life! Mindfulness is another matter....

And just now, I need to go make my lunch. Which I'd better do, since shredding lettuce in my head really doesn't get much done. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Inspiration: Photography

I love photography. I love trying to capture the beauty of the moment in a picture; I love sharing what I have seen; I love finding the art in the everyday moment. And I love watching others do this also.

I therefore absolutely adore the advent of photo-sharing online, which allows me to see other people's images on a daily basis. They fill me with joy, and they inspire me - not just in my photography, but in the occasional drawing I do (I don't draw often, but I dabble), in the poetry I write, in my blog posts, in what I look for and look at when I walk away from the computer and look at the things around me.

I use Flickr, which I particularly love because it makes following and discovering others easy. It's far from the only one and I'm happy to watch other photo sites also, but since I use Flickr, I tend to find other people on Flickr.

I offer you a link to my favorite photos (by others) as listed on Flickr (click any one to see the photo larger; the thumbnails are quite small). As you can see, I went on a rash of sunrise/sunset/sky photos recently. I seem to be very much enjoying vivid colors also (which I've also noticed in my desire to brighten my desk at work and some of my other artistic play: I want more rich, less bland, in the visuals around me now).

I also offer a link to Flickr's interesting photos in the last seven days page, which shows photos that are particularly "interesting" (based on being listed as favorites, how often and from where it is viewed, tags, comments, notes...not sure of the exact math). This page shows different photos each time you refresh it - something intriguing is bound to show up if you keep looking at it. (It is, of course, also an incredibly good way to waste a lot of time if you aren't careful, provided you like looking at photos.)

Another, very different, photography site is DPChallenge, which is what it sounds like - a challenge, a contest. I'm not that fond any more of the contest aspect itself - it sometimes seems the results are quite arbitrary and also I know that my photography doesn't go in the same direction the challenge does. I'd like to achieve technical perfection and beauty, yes, but I've no desire to spend hours setting up a super-fake shot just so I can be sure I get both, either. I want to capture the world-as-it-is and that is not relevant for this site. However, I still find the site inspiring - I just don't enter the challenges any more! The challenges give me focus and topics at time. And the winning pictures are often gorgeous, interesting, or both - thus, more inspiration.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Inspiration: Poetry / Marvin Bell

As a poet and a lover of poetry, of course poetry and other poets are one of my sources of inspiration, a very important one.

Among my favorite poets is Marvin Bell. I first encountered his work in college, when I had a professor who gave us some of his poems to read and had Marvin in to speak to us for about an hour one day. After that I read his poetry as much as I could, but had no further exposure to the man himself - until last year. Last year, he taught a poetry workshop as part of the Haystack program at PSU, a summer arts-at-the-beach program. I had never heard of the program before in my life, but one day at the library I found a flier for it and Marvin Bell was doing a poetry workshop. It was only months away at that time - the lead-up was very short and I felt I needed to make a decision right away lest I miss my window.

I went, of course. And I had an absolute blast. Marvin is, besides being a wonderful poet, witty and wise and very down-to-earth. The other participants in the workshop were wonderful writers and fun people - we were a very very mixed group - it was great!

Anyway, I can't share the workshop - I wish I could somehow share that experience beyond describing it, but it wouldn't be the same. But I can share some poetry and statements about poetry that inspire me. And I mention so much about Marvin Bell because I'd like to start with some of his.

First, his poem "To Dorothy" which is written to his wife. I remember a statement he made back when I was in college, I believe, roughly to the effect that he had not wanted to descend into trite sentiment, and so he started with that first line he uses because he knew that from there he would have to be very creative if he wanted the poem to be appreciated by Dorothy!

Also, the poem "He Had A Good Year" which I include here, rather than linking to, as the only copy I can find already online is embedded in a large page with a number of Marvin's poems. You might enjoy reading them but I did particularly want to recommend this one and with no way to direct link, I'd rather post it.

He Had a Good Year

while he was going blind. Autumnal light
gave to ordinary things the turning
beauty of leaves, rich with their losing.
A shade of yellow, that once stood opaque
in the rainbow of each glitzy morning,
now became translucent, as if the sun
broke against his own window. As for white,
it was now too much of everything,
as the flat deprivations of the color black
moved farther away: echoes of a surface
unseen and misremembered. I must tell you
how he managed as the lights went slowly out
to look inside the top glow of each object
and make in his mind a spectrum of inner
texture, of an essence isolate from the
nervous trembling of things struck by light.
"Ah, if God were only half the man he is,"
he said, "he would see things this way."
If you ever want a book of Marvin Bell's works, I recommend A Marvin Bell Reader or Nightworks, both collections from his previous books - Nightworks is the newer and probably better choice, but the Reader might be available used for less.

While I cannot upload the workshop he gave us (alas!), I can link to some advice he gives - intended for poets, but much either applicable or adaptable to other arts, I think - that is posted on the Copper Canyon Press website. (Copper Canyon is, by the way, an absolutely lovely little northwest poetry press, and I am always intrigued by books that come out under their imprint or poets whose previous books have done so - I don't always like the books, but the mere presence of the imprint is enough to intrigue me and make me want to see if I will like it!)

There are other poets I like - of course! - and I may well post more about others later this week. I feel like this post is already long enough and, truly, this man deserves his own writeup.

AW: Week 7 Check-In

1. Morning pages?

This week I fell off the morning pages wagon, then climbed back in. I think I got hay up the back of my shirt, too...wait, never mind, that itching is just my usual allergy fun. :) Anyway, I didn't get all days - Sunday/Monday (as well as Saturday of week 6) I did not write at all. Tuesday I wrote two pages, Wednesday I wrote a half-page (I was home sick, and literally fell asleep during it, and when I woke up several hours later I just decided that enough was enough and went back to taking care of myself). Thursday, Friday, and today I did the full three pages. One thing I noticed was I tend to "save" the "best" pens from the set I have now for last, but that this had turned into refusing myself the pen I wanted. Ack! So I did reverse that and the purple glitter and golden-yellow-glitter came out in the past three days. :)

Creative risks and childhood loves, no. Frankly, I seldom remember Julia's exhortations of what we're supposed to write in the MPs. I don't even try. First she tells us stream-of-consciousness, then she gives us tasks to do in them. I can do one or the other but I cannot do both. I find this re-purposing of them into something else aggravating. Especially since it relies on my memory when I'm tired in the morning. NOT a kind thing to do. So, whatever. Not trying for that part of the MPs.

2. Artist's Date? Risks?

Sort of and no. I did not plan an AD this week as I've found that too often the planned ones do not feel good - they feel obligation-like or tedious. I wanted to see what happened if I just tried to enjoy the week and see what came. I did have a planned event, but not an AD as it was going bowling with several people (or at least going to a bowling alley; I don't bowl, nor do I want to). That was fun, but not an AD. On the other hand, that same evening as I posed in an earlier entry, I got to enjoy just sitting in my car eating dinner and watching flakes of snow float down and melt. That was wonderful and magical - and I'm not sure if it counts or not. I loved it, though. I also went to Powell's Beaverton yesterday after work because I wanted a book of poetry they had, and I browsed the poetry aisle for a while (maybe 15-30 minutes) after getting the book, before I left.

3. Synchronicity?

The snow! Also thinking of a poem that sticks in my head and which is hard to find, searching, and finding that since the last time I tried the poet (Tess Gallagher) published a collected-works that includes it, and there were four copies at Powell's Beaverton - used, no less. (I'm half-wondering if there was a course that used the book locally, because there's still another one at the downtown Powell's....)

4. Other issues?

I still haven't done much on the poetry or cleaning fronts. I plan to tackle both this week but in small doses, so as not to commit to more than I can manage.

I did do several of the other items on my list, though. The two flowers from the earlier post now sit on my desk at work, looking lovely. I rearranged the desk at work in general and it feels much more pleasant, though I think more is still needed. I need more bright colors right now, for some reason, and I don't yet have them in place sufficiently. I'm also working on the painted-ivy-bowl idea, but so far the problem is finding a light for it. I'd rather not use the fake tea lights as they turn out to be fairly expensive for how long they claim to last - so I'm hunting for mini-lamps and other things (night lights are not bright enough, alas). I may not get to actually use the bowl after I paint it at this rate. (At $1 per at Michael's or Jo-Ann's, by the way, these ivy bowls are a great way to play with ideas! I've gotten another one to try something else with the fake water in.....)

And as you can see, I've tackled the site redesign. I haven't added a banner with one of my images yet. I'd like to do that, but for now I am happy with the progress that when I read this on my desktop screen I don't have two or three inches of white space either side of the text, which was really irritating me. And when I shrink the window it is still readable too. I switched to black-on-white because I was reminded by a post in another blog that I read (who doesn't read this one) that light-on-dark is hard for some people to read. I like the dark blue background but I would prefer that my words not be hard to read, since the words are kinda the point of most posts. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Morning Pages Book This is my morning pages journal. I bought this years ago and never used it as it was an inconvenient size - a full 8.5x11! So it was perfect for MPs. (Undecorated plain notebooks leave me feeling like I don't value myself. I have no problem with "wasting" pretty books on MPs, I got pretty books to "waste" them on whatever I feel like and to enjoy looking at them while I do it!) I think after this one I may (gasp!) use one smaller than she recommends. I'll adjust page-count so I'm writing as much, if so. See my comment about the inconvenient size - it is hard to find pretty journals in this size, but it's also a pain to carry it around, etc. I am not sorry I've been using it but I do not want to feel bound to go pick up more books (trust me, I have plenty, they're just not the "regulation" size).

How blogger handles images DRIVES ME NUTS. I want the image to float to the right of the paragraph above and nothing else, but I can't get it to do that. It floats to the right of whatever ends up left of it which will depend on your screen size. When the image is part of the paragraph, why?? I hate this crap.

Anyway, hopefully I've left enough space that this isn't next to the stupid picture of my stupid journal on this stupid web page. (Sorry, being a petty child there for a bit!)

Another meme, unrelated to the first, now - twenty things about myself:

  1. I'm a poet. I've been published twice, once in a little local 'zine (years ago: I suspect it's long gone) and once in the college 'zine. I might get published more if I were sending my poetry out.
  2. I'm a computer programmer.
  3. I'm a bit of a packrat and clutter-keeper. I'm working on this - controlling the stuff I want to keep, and choosing it better.
  4. I'm married, and have been married for less than a year (although we've been together a decade).
  5. I like pop rock and folk rock. If I can't understand the words, though, I probably don't like it.
  6. I don't understand most "funny" commercials these days. If the company's customers are really that dumb, why would I want to identify myself with them by buying that company's product?
  7. I have allergies. They're not life-threatening but they certainly are miserable at times, even with my taking medicine for them and getting other treatments.
  8. I'm very talkative and social, but I'm actually an introvert: time spent by myself recharges me (so I can go enjoy time with other people again too!).
  9. I don't mind doing the laundry but I hate folding it. (The DH doesn't mind folding, and dislikes doing laundry. I think we're very lucky....)
  10. I like to dress for comfort. I don't wear worn clothes - I don't like looking as if I am a rag-bag - but if it isn't comfortable, I'm not going to wear it. There's no point in looking like a million bucks and feeling like I'd gladly SPEND a million bucks if I could only breathe (finish my meal, etc.). :P
  11. I live in Oregon, on the west coast of the United States. I grew up here; I think it is lovely and green. It rains a lot, and I adore the rain too. I am HOME here and so glad of it.
  12. I drive everywhere, often by myself. I know that we "should" use public transit more, but this would be easier if the local public transit were useful. (My commute to work is 15-20 minutes. By public transit it would be 1-1.5 hours. EACH WAY. I don't have a spare 2 hours a day, folks. And that's assuming I go point-to-point rather than, as really happens, stopping to shop on the way home, etc. which is not even necessarily possible on the public transit which doesn't go to/near all those stores....)
  13. I love candles. For a long time I owned them but did not burn them, but in the past six months I have been fixing this and actually burning them again. I have a gorgeous dark chocolate one in here now, as well as vanilla tea lights. I kind of regret the vanilla tea lights, I like the smell but they make me sneeze!
  14. In college, I double-majored in computer science and Spanish. I no longer speak or read Spanish on a regular basis and I've no doubt lost a lot of it.
  15. I have trouble bringing myself to sign up for classes. Workshops are fine. I am on call for work two weeks in seven and I would have to trade with coworkers or not be able to go to class those weeks. I don't like the idea of taking a class and then missing some of it so I get confused and behind!
  16. I used to roleplay. I don't seem to make time for this any more, except at a gaming convention once a year. I'm trying to decide if this is a bad thing, or just a change. I like roleplaying but it may be that I just don't like it as much as other things - which I think is the case. Not sure yet.
  17. I don't play very many computer games. The exception is World of Warcraft. I stink at most such games and thus find them boring pretty quickly. WoW was made to be easier/more accessible and, at least for my abilities, they succeeded and I find it quite fun. Maybe too fun, I have to be careful not to let it eat my free time sometimes!
  18. I'm going to the furniture store tomorrow with the DH to pick out a new bed! Right now we're using a futon bed and I'll be glad to see the last of it.
  19. I don't exercise enough. Heck, if you don't count the stairs at home and work, and walking around a BIT to get places, I don't really exercise at all. I want to do something about that at some point in the near future.
  20. I don't get the newspaper but I do read the news online. Sometimes, I wonder why, as it's rather disheartening most days!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Good things. Yay, good things!

I actually did my daily pages today. First time since I said I would start doing them again. Oops. But, several good things so far this week. First, I wrote this on Monday morning as a note to myself:

Of course today is the day that I do not have my camera since we are going bowling tonight and I didn't want to have to haul it along.

Went out this morning to find it was 22 degrees and the car windows (and body!) were covered, not in a solid frost except for the back window, but in little frost flowers, the fine delicate lines spreading out and blooming. They were so beautiful I hated to remove them but it's very hard to drive without being able to see so I had to!

Then, driving in, as I came up the hill on Elligsen, the sunrise behind me was a glory of pink-peach-shading-to-orange, not eye-burning bright but glowing, alive, glowing from within, beautiful, beautiful. As I drove the last bit to work, later, it had gone brassy orange,
and then from brassy faded to a gentle orange that tinged the clouds now creamy, just barely shading them, behind the silhouette elegance of winter-bare trees...beautiful, so beautiful.

Second, that same evening I went out to go bowling. First I stopped to get dinner - and I ate my sandwich sitting in the car because it was snowing. Beautiful, delicate little snowflakes - in 40 degree weather! Floating down and melting off, so ethereal and impermanent and magical. Just a perfect moment as I had been very disappointed, we had a week of freezing temps and no snow - here it was not freezing and here was my snow - and in 40 degree weather. Delicate, fleeting, magical!

Third, I've actually done some of those projects! I tried the shadow photos. I couldn't work out what to put in mine so I've tabled that for the moment. Meanwhile I did the fake water. I really want to brighten my desk up at work, fake flowers are part of that. (Real ones, I'm pretty bad at keeping alive, I fear.) Thus I've produced this:

Then too, I did an experiment. I knew I would not want to use the result as I did not have the proper container to make it with but it let me test a theory. What I want is a smaller, rounded container, that I can peel off the end result when it's hard. Then I can cut the stem (if I use flowers - there are other options too!). But this is the test case (getting this cup off may be hard or impossible, and of course, it wouldn't be that pretty even if I did):

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Possible projects and next steps.

Okay, so now that I've de-foolished myself (at least for the moment, and on this topic), I'm still not sure what it is I will do next, but I have narrowed it down at least! I've ruled out both Art Escapes and Celebrate Your Creative Self, which didn't seem to suit me that well. I'm not primarily a drawer/painter and I just wasn't interested in what they had to offer. (Who knows, that might change in the future; but right now it's the case.) Art Escapes also makes me boggle at Northlight books; those binder bindings look really cheap to me, a lot worse than a simple spiral bind without the binder would, I think.

Anyway, I'm still considering the other two books (and the magazine, though it won't last long, of course, having fewer items). Whatever I do, I am going to revel in my ability to ignore entire sections if I don't want to do them, just because I feel a bit straight-jacketed by the AW. Maybe that's bringing me into sanity and maybe it's not, but either way it's confining!

Other projects I have that may or may not get done and may or may not occur along with the AW:
  • Take the ivy bowl and jar, and paint them brightly. See how they look with a light inside. This may be the solution to the fake tea lights, which could quite possibly look lovely if I couldn't actually see them.
  • Get fake flowers in their vase with fake water, and see how that looks - again for the desk-brightening
  • Use fake water to contain things in interesting shapes (must first get a container I can reasonably hope to remove from the water after it's solidified). I want to see if I can get a nifty paperweight or conversation piece. Worst case scenario it doesn't work, but it seems worth a try.
  • Zen sand gardens. I got a kit for a coworker, but looking at what goes into it, I can make these at home for less than that. I've never wanted one for myself because of my fear I'd get sand in things (probably a realistic fear). But if I make it at home, I can make it with the sand stuck permanently in the shape I pick. If it works, I can make several with different layouts, and rocks that I can set on them to finish it (can even change the rocks to adjust the mood). I have no idea if this will work. It seems worth a shot, though. My current theory is to use cardboard jewelry boxes as holders, they are shallow/flat and available in the right size/shape, and I can use paint to turn them traditional-looking shades like black or brown, or I could get real creative and make them bright and gawdy.
  • Throw pillows. I have some old clothes that are no longer suitable for wearing, but that I still love. They have enough solid fabric to make patchwork throw pillows out of, which I would rather do than entirely throw them away.
  • Work on my poetry. I have several inspired seeds that just need me to come to the table and start writing from them to finish them. Others need editing - mindful editing, not critic editing.
  • Send my poetry out. I want to find, in the next three months, at least three publications I'd be comfortable seeing my work in - then submit to them. (This limits the search to publications that accept unsolicited submissions, obviously; I'll do the first line of hunting from Poet's Market so I know which those are.) This is somewhat bounded by the fact that I must either buy Poet's Market, or drive to a library not in my hometown (it's a reference book, so I can't put a hold on it; and my library has the ever-so-recent 2001 copy - not so very useful).
  • Not so artistic but badly needed: clean the computer room so that the old desk can be removed and the bookshelves and table put in.
  • Find table to put in. After the bookshelves are in so that I can measure and be sure it will fit. Possibly get an old table and redo the top myself - that might be fun.
  • Fix the tabletop fountain the DH's husband gave us. Or, rather, steal pieces from it; the pump's burned out, but I have another pump. Will need to move it to another bowl for that also, but the piece that goes over the pump is nice and worth saving.
  • Possibly make other tabletop fountains since I do have the supplies.
  • Finish decorating the journal I put together, and see if I like it. (I'm dubious, right now.)
  • Consider playing with bookbinding (in what spare time??).
  • (added later) Figure out enough about Blogger templates to redo this blog without the fixed-width stuff that leaves so much screen space blank on my (relatively small!) screen. Maybe add an image - maybe one of mine, even - to the banner at the top.
  • (added later) Shadow art. I'm not sure if I'm gonna do this or not but I was thinking it'd be neat to take a photo of your shadow and write/draw/whatever the things you hide from yourselves and others (but want to admit in a picture, I guess!) in the shadow-space. (Thanks to Kara, whose post spawned this idea.)

And no, for the record, I am not expecting to get all of these done in a short period of time, or even necessarily to get all of them done. The computer room and the poetry are the two most important ones. None of these require supplies I don't have, so.... (The possible exception being the throw pillows - I may have fabric for more than I have stuffing for - but that would be after I made a couple, so.)

Things I am grateful for today....

1) That days like yesterday are relatively rare.

2) I have an Anais Garden candle - bittersweet chocolate. A big pillar. And it smells like what it says it smells like. The room is filled with the scent of chocolate.

3) I don't have to go to the laundromat today for the rest of the bedding. I probably should, but we can get by without it for a day or two if we must. (I'm trying to decide whether to do it today, when it adds 30 minutes of driving time to my day, or on a work day, when it's less than 2 minutes extra driving as it's on the way home. On the other hand, would I rather lose a couple hours sitting around in a laundromat on a Sunday afternoon, or a work evening already crowded?)

4) I am home and safe and warm and comfy, and I can choose whether to change any of those.

5) My DH was very understanding and calm about yesterday's laundry snafu, as he is about most things.

And now, I try to decide what to do with my day next. Maybe something for my desk. Maybe something else. Just need to figure out what I want to do.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Just because I want something else up here....

...I am posting. Truly, I am just in a bad mood this week, and it sort of...permeated everything. Which is why I've been quiet, but now it's out there.

I was going to upload some of the photos I took this week, to share! But, none of them turned out well - at least not in ways I intended; there may be something to do with them art-wise in time, but nothing that jumps right out at me when viewing. There are a couple exceptions but they are in-jokes and family things, things that are precious to me but not easily explained beyond myself and the DH. (On the other hand, I'm deeply grateful that the photos of the Valentine's balloon heart came out, even if they're not photos that I really deem worth posting. It was a funny gift to give him - for reasons that are hard to explain and even harder to make sound sane - and now I have a record of it.)

The misbehaving washing machine mostly won, but not entirely. I had to throw out two pillows. (Let me rephrase that: they could have been saved. Frankly, I'd rather buy two new pillows than wring out two thoroughly-sodden pillows by hand, because the washer has decided it can't handle them on spin cycle, when it used to just fine.) So, I went and got two new pillows. There are two more waiting to be washed; I will take them and the comforter to the laundromat tomorrow. Unless I don't want to, in which case Tuesday. (Monday I have a commitment and it will probably run too late to do that.) I have just now looked up where the nearest laundromat is, which I did not know until now. Pity I need to!

On the plus side, the two new pillows I got are hypo-allergenic, and I got sleeves for them and the remaining pillows to help with keeping dust and dust mites out (in addition to the usual cases; these sleeves zip shut). And I got a couple socks. And a pair of amazingly soft, pettable, cuddly socks. Even the soles are soft. I have the feeling I will break my neck in these socks one day, sliding across the kitchen floor, but they were so soft, how could I resist? Also got two soft cute purple valentine's heart pillows (purple is an in-joke for us) on sale for 50 cents each. Yes, Valentine's Day is over, but "true love" and "forever" are topical any time. And besides, they're soft and pettable too!

I need forks. Why is it that the options (even if I look at sets, which I neither want nor need an entire silverware set) range from 'ugly' to 'blah'? There is nothing I like. I like our current ones just fine, except that some have gone missing and I'd like to have enough to get through the week without sometimes having to devolve to plastic forks. But the pattern we have, I cannot find (no real surprise, I suppose) and the ones that are out there are unpleasant to me. I've tried several places - malls, outlet malls, the local Target...so not impressed. Hopefully I will find something. If not, well, we have plastic forks. We can hold out a while, especially considering we only need to dip into them occasionally.

I had a good time today on World of Warcraft, at least. The rest of my life was dominated by the washing machine battle, but on WoW it went really well. Tomorrow I will hopefully have some more good in the rest of my life.

Moving on to week seven....

...irritably, unfortunately. Go ahead and skip this if you want. I'm still grumpy and whining, apparently. Perhaps because I'm praying I'll have enough bedding not to freeze my posterior off tonight because, thanks to the washing machine's glitch earlier, I'm actually a couple hours behind where I meant to be in getting it washed - and it's all been on the floor. ARGH!

I thought with some eagerness, ooo, this week would apply more! And it does. I mean, right there is my perfectionism bug. Unfortunately it's accompanied by jealousy as a topic, and I can think of only a single person I'm jealous of. Not because she's good at any one thing, but because she's good at everything, from drawing to writing poetry and fiction and songs to singing to having friends (who adore her) and.... I like her, but I'm jealous. It's not "she can write fiction" or "she can sing" or "she can write poetry" though - it's that she's all that, all at once. (While, I might add, holding down a day job.)

Other than that, I'm failing to think of anything that makes me jealous, really. It might exist but I haven't run into it lately. Or else my truly horrid memory is not providing it if it should be. Then on the complete-these-phrases thing, a lot of my answers didn't work or I didn't have answers. I didn't lack for much as a kid, though I found a couple things. Of the things I did lack for, with a couple exceptions, I've tried those things since then - and discovered I don't really care for them after all. I only missed the opportunity to find that out when younger, but it's since been done. (There are, again, an exception or two that I'm making note of - and they're particularly important ones - but most of those 10 sentences were dead ends.) Then, a couple of the "take positive inventory" sentences had no positive answers for me. Negative ones, yes. Positive, not so very much so. I had to scramble on what the morning pages have shown me, because I don't really remember what's in them, so I finally settled on "I can get up when the alarm first goes off" for pity's sake! Lying in bed that extra 15-30 minutes used to be one of my luxuries and here I am celebrating that I no longer do? Gah! That's still better than some of the others, though.

Also, for the record, I am sick of these tasks involving collage. I know Julia loves it. I hate it. It's sticky, annoying, takes too long, and invariably the results are at best blah. I have done collage. I have done it to see if it was fun, for artistic reasons, because our illustrious author said I should, because I needed something really fast, and to preserve images I like. And I don't like it. I know we're supposed to do the tasks we resist, but I flat dislike making collages. It is sticky and tedious. I'm tired of tasks that ask me to do something I dislike so much. May I please photocopy these tasks and glue them to Julia, if I must collage something? :P

Honestly. Apparently I'm going through one of those negative phases - or perhaps Julia's not God (although she seems to think she is) and this part of the book just sucks for relevance for me. I really wouldn't mind so much if her tone were more like Kat's supportive tone, if it were more "take what you can, try this, leave the rest" instead of acting like it's all gospel truth for everyone - which makes me feel like a failure when I don't have her damned issues!

Grrr. I may do some or most of the exercises, but not the collage-related ones (or, if there's more to them than that, not the collage part), and not #6 unless I can think of something I need or want. I don't need clutter, even if it is wonderful clutter. If I can think of something that would be wonderful not-clutter, then I'll get it. If I can find one I like.

Grrr. Apparently I am more snarly than musing. I'm sure you figured that out way before reading this sentence, though. My apologies to anyone who actually read this rant through this far! (Unless you feel the same way and it was validating, in which case I suppose apologizing would be silly!)

AW Week 6 Check-In

Let me start this off by saying this week stank, health-wise. I have ongoing allergy issues; they all cropped up and bit me at once, to the point of interfering with my sleep and also leaving me itchy. Being itchy (in between anti-itch cream applications, anyway) and short on sleep makes me really really irritable. (I seem to have them somewhat under control today, but I'm still slightly irritable. At least I could sleep in and I am not as itchy, so progress is being made! And how come it's better today, one day after I get the allergy shots that should make them worse in the short term??)

Anyway, as a consequence I suspect my check-in is going to have overtones of the irritation. For bonus points, my washer decided to screw up and flood this morning. Fortunately I heard it botching the imbalance handling and got to it before it caused much havoc. My already-frayed mood was the biggest victim, and I'm mostly over that. (The next load waiting to go in was towels. Handy, that: I used a couple to mop up the mess. Sigh.)

1. Morning pages. Um. 4/7. 6/7 if I stretch. Thursday I got 2 pages done and then something came up (I think my patience, hitting its limit, but I don't remember). Friday I got less than one page done. Today I was out of sorts and wanted fun time, so I played World of Warcraft. I could still do them but to be honest, I do not feel like it. I'm just very irritated at the AW (and the world!) right now and I don't want to spend the time on it. I know I probably should, but while I've benefitted from MPs, I haven't seen enough benefit to think them completely indispensible, and it feels like forcing myself to do something "for your own good" like a kindly, well-meaning, but stupidly misguided parent. So I'm ignoring them today. Will try to resume tomorrow, hopefully more in the mood. I did poke a bit at the idea of abundance this week but, to be honest, I didn't really feel this chapter or topic applied much...well, I'll hit that on a later question.

2. Artist Date. I did not pre-plan and execute one. But I did go to two craft stores after work on Thursday, looking for things to use in making things to brighten up my office a bit. I found some! :) Plus I finally gave in and bought some fake water, which I've wanted to play with for a while anyway, for both its intended use and a couple others. Haven't used it yet - hopefully sometime this weekend (but maybe not - I have a couple other projects I'd like to try, so it's sort of a question of which one wins the battle of the temptation first).

3. Synchronicity. Not a ton - but in the week on money/abundance, I wished I'd win the lottery (yeah, I know...still, I can wish!). I did not. But I did get a bonus at work - a small one but a real one, for all my hard work on the current tasks! (Bonuses at work, other than a token Christmas gift, are about as rare as lottery wins, actually. It's not worth nearly as much as the Powerball jackpot, but it's still money and - even better - it's money that has recognition/appreciation attached, which is always nice!)

4. Other issues. Two sets:

First, really, this chapter is hard for me to apply to myself. She presents it as though everyone has money/abundance problems...I really don't. I mean, there are things I'd love to do if I had more money, but they're in the "I'll get there eventually" category anyway. (I'd love to pay the mortgage off this year! Without a huge windfall, not happening - but we will pay it off at some point, and I know this.) I used to have abundance problems - buying too much and all the wrong stuff for me - but I trounced those a couple years ago. (Ironically, by putting myself on a budget. Because it made me think about where I was spending my money and what I really wanted.)

That's not to say I can't improve. I spent some time casting around and came up with a couple things to try. Just saying it's not a huge issue - there's a lot of abundance in my life already, and I know this. Of the exercises - thanks, used to collect rocks as a child, still have them, have more rocks than I know what to do with. May need to purge some. After I find them again, as they're buried in with all the other clutter. Flowers? In this weather? I think not! Though I did get some fake flowers for my work-brightening decoration project.... Baked apple muffins. Been baking for weeks. The muffins weren't that great so I made blueberry later in the week. Those were better. Etc. Nothing really horrid, nothing really great, for any of the exercises. More a "whatever".

The other issue, ironically, was my health making me see things badly. I read the two comments on my last post as being very harsh - and of course they were supportive. Where the heck did I get that turnaround? Simple, I was itchy and snarly when I read them and so I read them horribly wrong. Fortunately I know I do this, so instead of ranting about the unsupportive comments (that were quite supportive!), I just wandered off and then reread them later. I took them as criticisms for looking too far ahead or trying to shape others (maybe because I was afraid that was how it would be taken? - though I don't think I was, really), and they were really just supportive comments. Boy did I feel silly (and then grateful!) when I reread them later on, properly!

So I hope that Kara and GreenishLady will forgive me for taking their words all wrong, even if they didn't know I had until now. :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What now, and what next?

Two focuses in this post - what am I doing now/short-term, and - because others have asked and because I've mentioned it - what will I do after the Artist's Way to keep the momentum going. (Yes, we're not-quite halfway through. I like planning even if the plans have to be abandoned, however.)

1) What now?

Today I made apple muffins. I won't use the mix again; it was okay, but that's all it was. The blueberry ones are much much better. But the apple ones are okay, and now I know. Yesterday the DH made spaghetti and garlic bread - his technique for the latter surprised me and was quite nummy (the same minced garlic I'd used for the garlic chicken...). Today I started columbines in peat pots. Growing up I loved the flowers at our house, but especially the lilac and the columbines. I haven't any here and now I want them. So this is my attempt at starting that. (I don't want a full-size lilac, and I don't know if even the dwarf ones are small enough. I need to look into that. But columbines should be a good start, and easier.)

I got most of the AW blogs into a single RSS/atom feed syndication tool, although some did not have feeds that I could find so they are not on the list - just a few, though! The way I was reading before it was too easy to miss things - now even if I do not have time to read everything, I can come back and the things I have not read will still be marked as such. This is good. Plus it means I can actually follow everyone, before if I had done that I would never have finished reading anything - too disorganized the way it was falling together with my other LiveJournal syndicated feeds. Good idea in principle, less effective than having them elsewhere for this.

Tomorrow is going to be insanely hectic with the being-adult "musts" alas. I have a dentist appointment, then errands to run that will take (literally) hours. I do not foresee getting much done tomorrow in the way of art, other than the creativity at my job itself, so hopefully I will manage to enjoy that!

So tonight I am going to treat myself to a bubble bath and a bit of time with the Artist's Way. (Then I really have to pay bills, alas, but most of today has been play, so....)

2. What next?

I haven't decided what I'll do after this, but I have picked out a few likely items. I may work through some of the items in the February issue of Artist's Sketchbook magazine (I'm going to check out the next one; if it is as good as this one I will probably subscribe!). I might move to a book; the candidates for that are 52 Projects (Random Acts of Everyday Creativity), The Creativity Book, Art Escapes, and Celebrate Your Creative Self. I own the first two; the last two I am getting from my library for now. If I like them I can buy them, but I'm not sure yet (and of course the library had copies, which is always a bonus - very hard to check things out when they do not have them!).

So, since those are what I'm considering - what about you? Have you read and/or done any of these? Would you like to read or do any of them? What did you think of them, if you did or read them?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

AW Week 5 Check-In

1. Morning pages. I did morning pages every day this week except today. Today they are going to be evening pages apparently. I finished them all but one day (when work interrupted about an inch from the bottom of the third page, I just left it that way). I'm still mostly okay with them and they help organize my day. (Today's moving of them back to the Daily Pages I said I'd be content with if that was what I did, I think is selfishness in another area rather than a tantrum. I just doubled the memory in my gaming computer and added a new video card and I played World of Warcraft for hours. Not the most productive use of my time but very very fun.)

2. Artist Date. I did. I told myself I'd go to the Japanese Gardens and I did. It was cold but pretty - pretty in ways I could not capture on film, so I took no pictures. Pretty like the cold wind against your cheek, pretty like the smell after rain, pretty like birdsong when you cannot see a bird, pretty like the spatter of rain against tile, pretty like a leaf fluttering farewell, pretty like seeing only fog where you know a whole city huddles underneath. It felt a bit like an obligation and yet I enjoyed it too; and on the way home I stopped at Powell's and I browsed. I admit I stopped to get a gift for a coworker, but I stopped and gave myself the luxury of browsing also for a bit.

This week she asks if we've taken an artist's date that felt really adventurous. Yes, but not in a good way; that one up Multnomah Gorge was an adventure but it didn't really go well. Honestly, I like doing things I like. Trying something new...I've considered at least one but I can't do that until April (I do not want to cope with possibly needing chains to drive. I simply do not.)

3. Synchronicity. I may have? At this moment I do not remember if so. I am drawing such a blank.

4. Other issues.

Poetry is flowing again, pictures are being taken. A week or two ago I bought a little candle holder for tealights that looks like a sort of asian-inspired meditating person over the holder and feels right in ways I cannot define. I have been burning vanilla-scented tealights in it because they sounded nicer than plain. They are, and they burn clear and smokeless, but sooner or later the smell (which I love!) causes me to want to sneeze. Oops. Up until then (and sometimes after) it's gorgeous, though.

And, Kara and GreenishLady have recommended salt lamps to me. I did some web searches and they look gorgeous! But expensive, with shipping. I've no idea where I might get one locally. (I gather from Kara's comment that they may be just as expensive locally - shipping presumably being why.) Still, I'm going to see if I can find them locally so I can see one to be sure I'd like it. They just may be my answer (or part of it) for work.

I'm also thinking of maybe decorating a jar or something so that you can't really see what's inside and dropping one of the silly fake tealights in there. Maybe it would look okay. But frankly I'm dubious about that. Still - I know where I want to go to check for some stuff. No idea where to look for the salt lamps and I quite want to find one now! But step by step. I'd never even known those existed until now so I am definitely more likely to find one since I am looking! (Hey, universe? I'd realllly like the chance to see a salt lamp - and be able buy it if I like it in person. Very much.)

When did I start cooking? I made garlic chicken this week too! It didn't turn out as well as the lemon chicken but that's okay, I have some ideas for next time. Tonight or tomorrow I will probably bake muffins, as the temptation to do so begins to overcome my inertia. :)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Yummy and the Pretty

Tonight, I made lemon chicken. My mother could not remember how she used to make it exactly, she just used to throw it together, but she told me roughly what went in. I adjusted because I'm lazy, and it worked. I think I want just a bit less lemon juice next time, but it was pretty good as-is. And I have enough left over for my lunch at work tomorrow also!

For the curious: preheat oven to 375. Take two boneless skinless chicken breasts, put in pan such that they don't touch each other or the sides. I poured 1/4 cup lemon juice over - I think I'd use maybe a bit less, but not down to 1/8 or anything. Pour another 1/4 cup water over. Sprinkle thyme over the chicken lightly - not going for the encrusted look - and ditto salt. Bake them for about 25 minutes, until when they're stabbed the juice runs clear. (Or use a meat thermometer; mine doesn't care for anything smaller than roasts, though.) Thin the juices with equal parts water and they make a great sauce over rice.

All assuming you like lemon and chicken, of course. Definitely not the dish for those who don't!

And, for the pretty part of this post, a coworker pointed me to this fellow named Julian Beever who does sidewalk art... 3D sidewalk art. It's incredible. A search on that name will find you several sites but this is the one that I found - check it out. Sidewalk art! I'm in awe. (I don't aspire to do anything like that. It sounds tedious to do. But to admire it, to see it, YES. And I assume that to do it at all he really enjoys it - that's the key.)

AW: Tagged!

I have been tagged with a meme by GreenishLady! This meme is AW-themed, as you can see:

4 Wishes, Dreams, Desires

  1. I wish I had more time to explore all the things I want to do.
  2. I wish I were more courageous about strange things, new things, things that are "too different" from what I do normally. (Travelling abroad, say.)
  3. I want my allergies controlled. I want to be able to spend more time with animals.
  4. I wish were better at being content with the moment, whether I am trying to change the future or not.
4 Imaginary Lives
  1. Full-time poet.
  2. Homemaker (no children).
  3. ...drawing a blank here, now. Darnit, am I not allowed to like my life as it is?
4 Things I should Change
  1. Exercise - I need to find some form of it I like, and do it more often.
  2. This house is a welter of mess, but it seems I complain about it more than I clean it up (but I am working on one of those areas this month!).
  3. My attitude toward time. So many things I do are done briskly, to make sure I have the maximum amount of time for other things. I wonder how many of these things I race through are less-complete than they would be otherwise.
  4. My space at work. It has some aspects that please me and make me smile but I think it needs more. Unfortunately what I'd love to add (a candle) isn't allowed. Well, it is, but I could not light it, and I really would want it lit. I would get one of those electric "tealights" they sell, except really they don't look at all believable unless you put them inside something else and I like the look of flame itself. Bah! But I will have to think on other ways to brighten up my workspace. (Without driving my office-mate batty, of course.)
4 People I admire
  1. Marvin Bell. He is an incredible poet; I've taken a workshop from him and he's also a nice guy, a good teacher, and has a great sense of humor. He's just a wonderful human being and a blast to read and to learn from. (Learn with? Both?)
  2. My husband. He is so very good at keeping his cool and keeping calm - not ignoring his own wants, but just staying calm while addressing what he needs. Very laid-back without doing a carpet imitation. I admire that greatly.
  3. My friend R. He is one of the most brilliantly focussed programmers I personally know. I would not want to share his focus on that to that degree, but I admire it. He loves what he does and he's correspondingly very dedicated and very very good at it.
  4. My parents (okay, that's two people, but tough). They weren't perfect, no, but they loved me and raised me well and encouraged me to do what I wanted and to explore. I think I came out of childhood pretty well aimed for the world - and still trusting my artistic self, as they encouraged that side of me without forcing anything. And somehow they kept their sanity despite having a very active, somewhat bizarre child about! :)
4 Things I like about the Artist's Way
  1. The group. Yes, that's not intrinsically part of the path, but it is part of it this time. The sense of community and helping. (And the wonderful people and getting to know you!)
  2. The morning pages. They not only form a brain-drain, they seem to get me much more organized. (One reason my "daily pages" usually are morning pages even though I didn't promise they would be - that organization is very useful to me but only if it comes before whatever it's organizing!)
  3. Artist's Dates. I tend to spend time on myself anyway but look, now I'm supposed to do this even! Plus, it encourages me to think outside the box and try new things, not just the same old same old me-things.
  4. The reminder it makes to focus on my creativity. The encouragement to do so. (After this is done, I think I will try another book or set of exercises, less for recovery and more for ongoing, as I quite like to be reminded regularly. It works well and keeps me in the right frame of mind.)

4 things I still Hope to get out of the Artist's Way

I'm not sure what to put here, honestly. Our illustrious author doesn't have my entire trust, and I'm not 100% sure what it may or may not offer or give me. I'd like to continue expanding my creativity and keeping its place in my life strong; I'd like to start sending poetry out for publication again. But I don't care if I get those from the AW or not.

Tagging: At this point I should tag four people. But I am not sure who would want to be tagged or not. So instead I say - if you want to do this, feel free to snag it. :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


This is a rambling post, and for bonus (?) points, I am using words from a religion not my own, which seems somewhat awkward and yet they are right to what I want to say, I think.

If it has to be perfect, it so often does not get done.

God made the world, and he looked at it and said it was good. Not perfect. Just good.

It strikes me that He was very wise, for how could we His creations then have any room for improvement or freedom if the world had been perfect? It was good: and that was enough. For if everything were perfect, only two types of choice or change would be possible: to swap one perfect thing for another equally-perfect thing (is such possible?), or to become worse.

In not choosing to make the world perfect, He left us the ability to improve ourselves. And to create. If we cannot make things that are perfect, should we not be grateful? Today I may write a good poem. Tomorrow I may write a better poem. (Or a worse one. Or one of each.) If I have once written a perfect poem - I might match that achievement but never exceed it. It is always hard to aim for something you have achieved before, and to miss it; but how much worse to know you could never surpass it, never hope for that moment when you outdid yourself?

I am a perfectionist, of course, and have been since I was quite young. I remind myself I should not be, and this post is another reminder of that. Or rather, it is the fruit of such a reminder that I delivered to myself more in private recently, and that bled into the thoughts above.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Image: early morning with fog

Outside the light is slowly coming up. The world is muffled in a soft grey not-wall, the things beyond it ghost-shadows of shapes that might be known if they were wholly there. The mossy fingers of the bare tree rest splayed against the shadowy cotton of morning, and the bushes bristle warily close to the house. The world is waking, slowly. Not ready to throw the blanket off. And we, we are up before the world, waiting patiently for it to stir, to see what gifts it brings today.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ah, sweet weekend. And...no reading yet?

It amuses me. After all the horrid bits of not-reading this past week and finally just breaking it entirely for blogs/journals (and abruptly balancing a lot better), what happened this morning when I could read anything again, including the half-finished novel I stopped in the middle of last Saturday?

I moved the last bits of hardware onto my new desk, took a photo, posted it, did my AW check-in, went up to the Japanese Gardens and listened to the water-song and bird-song, stopped at Powell's and bought a couple books and a gift for a co-worker, got the supplies to hopefully grow some columbines (I love columbines!), and did the grocery shopping. It's 2:15 in the afternoon...and I have not read, yet, other than the blogs/journals. I haven't even read the AW chapter!

Of course, now I am home and out of "ooo must do this!" things, so after I eat a late lunch I likely will read some. But I did not go on a whole-hearted binge, nor did I even want to, which I take as a Good Thing.

Speaking of which, here is my new desk setup (as uploaded to Flickr - here is my whole photostream, which you can also reach from the links on that photo).

AW: Week 4 Check-In

1) Morning pages. Every day. Lots of whining about the reading restriction, otherwise about normal - maybe a bit more focussed on organizing the work-a-day stuff. I've started, the past couple weeks, getting impatient to get on with my day half-way down page 3, which means the bottom of page 3 almost invariably has a "Done!" exclamation as I hit the last line. ;)

2) Artist's Date. That trip up the Gorge on Sunday, intended originally to be a poetry time. It didn't work out as what I planned but it still was pretty good, the falls were just incredible with as much rain as we'd been getting.

3) Synchronicities. One minor one and one irritating one. The minor is that I've wanted a new front-door mat for a while and Thursday I got a coupon book that had them on sale, so I got one. The irritating was, I've also wanted a new video card for a while and there was a good one on sale...but it turned out not to be compatible with my computer, and I had to return it!

4) Other issues:

Reading deprivation bit. What I've learned is that I was an idiot to do this and I won't do it again. Sunday I was depressed and sick (hard to tell which came first, but I'm sure the cold weather in the Gorge did not help the cold). Monday I was feeling better but still depressed. Tuesday, I felt yucky. Wednesday I was partway through the half-hour of blog reading I'd allowed myself, racing as usual, when I came across the first of several posts from my old college friends remembering C, a friend of ours who died that date years ago in a car accident. I don't normally remember dates, so I hadn't attached special significance to that one until I encountered that entry. I was almost out of blog-reading time and I had already felt out-of-sorts and bitchy all week and wanted to take back my word about the blog time, having not done so only out of guilt and shame (which Cameron is good at setting up, even as she preaches against it!). I tossed it to the four winds, said screw it, and removed the restriction time on blogs altogether.

Thursday, Friday, and yesterday were all much better than the earlier part of the week. I felt more together, less scattered, less lonely, less depressed, less desperate. During the earlier part of the week my poetry output had sagged slightly and my interest in photography had just about gone to zero (except for the shots of Multnomah Falls, which was incredible and I knew I would want to try for some - but it was too cold to linger long). I haven't recovered the poetry output but I think I will, and the photography - well, I took a ton of pictures Saturday. :) Some of them even came out! :)

Basically what I found was, until I tossed off the restrictions, my week had been reduced only to shoulds. I should pay the bills, I should clean this, I should do that. Not because all my wants center around reading - but a lot do, and frankly I got so depressed with the feeling of having to rush through my friends' posts rather than savor their comments, I didn't want to do much! I didn't do the life pie exercise this week. I'm pretty sure it would be balanced in "suck" though - except for work, where I was able to continue on as normal. (And where, thank you very much oh high-and-mighty Cameron, every major task I had this week required reading.)

I feel alive again. Thursday and Friday I cleaned the computer room because I wanted to, bought, and set up the new desk I'd wanted, searched for, measured, found, and selected - and had meant to be working on all week but didn't really want to until then. It's really nice. (It's not any better than my old one - but it is narrower - which means I can put some shelves in now. I need those shelves. I'll be even happier when I get those but that is dependent on other people - I hope. If none of our friends with a truck is willing to help out, I'll have to rent one just to get them home, which will be annoying. Affordable, but annoying.)

I learned most of all this week to trust my inner voice, which said that no matter how much Cameron hammered it home and finger-wagged in her text, this was a bad idea. I said I'd do this and so I tried to - and kept trying, even when it felt wrong, for fear of shaming by you guys (and by myself!). (And why would I fear that? There has never been any sign you would shame someone for doing only what they can. Why? Because Cameron hammered it home so hard it seemed like a shameful thing! Stupid of me to project the author's attitude on the other people doing this when I know very well I'm one of us and I don't agree with her, and it's been very much a "take what you can" manner from everyone. But I wasn't exactly in a mind-space to be smart, I guess. Sigh.)

I did keep from reading books or magazines, and most news, though that was also the source of some irritation. I found a copy of Artist's Sketchbook early in the week with a lead article of "Launch a Year of Creativity". No reading!!! Augh! But I bought it and I stuck it by my desk and I have not read it yet but I do have it there to do so. And I wanted to play with some bookbinding stuff, maybe, to see what it was like, but I never have done that. I have a book on it but I could not read it. (Now I'm not in the mood for it any more. I'm not sure if that's sour grapes, missing the timing, or if I just wanted to play with bookbinding because I wanted an excuse to read the book....)

I am still irked with Cameron, though. She ladeled the shame and guilt phrasing and stories on really heavily. The exercise #10 that described lapsing into reading as having a "tantrum" I read on Tuesday and it reinforced my intent to force myself to keep doing this in spite of being sure that it was damaging me (what if I was imagining it just because I wanted to read? What if my depression was a tantrum?). AUGH! I'm kind of glad for Wednesday's wake-up call, at least I only endured half a week of that. I almost had abandoned it Tuesday if I had not read the exercises. Sigh.

Frankly I think our charming author has a God complex, is incapable of imagining lives unlike her own, and is more than a bit hypocritical in telling us to set aside shame, then shaming us. But that's just me. I had a lot of anti-Julia-Cameron rants in my morning pages this week, though. (As early as Sunday, I was having daydreams about what I'd have said to her face at the next meeting if I were in one of her workshops instead of doing this on the 'net. I'd probably have thrown a huge fit and quit.)

I'm not quitting. But I am going to try to fight my conformist nature a bit more and be willing to reject outright things that seem to be doing damage when I try them.