Wednesday, August 31, 2011

All I've Got, For Now

a photo taken at Table Rock when Jason and I went hiking a couple of weeks ago. I'm not feeling very talkative lately; make of that what you will. Don't mistake it for inactivity, though; Jason's current status of job-seeking means that my time when I'm not working is often pretty well scheduled to keep us on the move, because he spends all day in the house and I know from my foray in joblessness last year while planning our move from Illinois to SC that sitting around the house gets pretty darn boring. Jason is much better at activities than I am.

This is good, in that it's meant a lot of friend-time and family-time, both of which I need and thoroughly enjoy. It also means that I'm doing a lot of things and am not exactly relaxed enough to blog about any of them terribly often.

I don't know. I've been pretty stressed out lately, which is always something that ends with me fairly scatterbrained. I was able to take a good long walk this morning, just me and my ipod, and get some thinking time in. I don't know that anything came of it, but any time I spend just kind of grooving to music I consider to be time to get my brain back in order, at least a little bit.

A coworker and I were discussing the idea of writing a tell-all memoir about working as baristas in a bookstore coffee-shop. We threw around the idea of titles like But This Is Exactly What You Ordered, Sir or Dispatches from the Espresso Machine. Or No, Ma'am, I Cannot Give You 20% Off Because You're Just So Nice.

Well, Jason has a lead on a job, so I'm pretty hopeful today. He is off taking care of that sort of thing, while the cat and I have staring contests and I try to talk myself into doing anything but playing the "oh I'm not at work I'm going to allow myself to rest" game, which is nice but doesn't actually accomplish anything.

Then again, relaxation in and of itself can be an accomplishment. I think I'm letting stress get to me again, which is never fun for anybody.

I'm stuck in a cycle of art block. I don't have inspiration, and hardly ever have the energy, to try and create anything. It never did just come on command; that's not how inspiration works... or at least it never has with me. It's part of the stress, too; the more I worry (about money, about our five-year plan, about my eroding list of things I had hoped to get done before I was 30, the next six months, the next ten years... it goes on like that), the more I stress out, the less likely it is to ever come back. It's easy to say "Well, just worry less," but it certainly is not nearly so easy to carry out that advice. I know I need to worry less, but that's not actually how worry works; I don't call that into being any more than I can simply pull inspiration out of thin air.

On the other hand, I got home from work last night and settled in to reading and watching some Netflix off and on, and when Jason got home from a meeting he was at we spent our whole night laughing like little kids at each other, which was fantastic. And evenings like that are always fantastic. I was essentially not anxious for a good few hours in a row.

I need to figure out how to let myself breathe, and not spend time trying to figure out which thing is going to go wrong next, how we're going to juggle adult life long enough to make it to what I can only hope is the next lucky break (we're due to get one eventually, right?)... you would be surprised the kinds of things my brain will come up with when it comes to finding stuff to worry about.

I can't just will myself cheerful. That's never been a talent of mine.

I can't just shrug it off. So I suppose I need to draw on the strength I know I've picked up from all the women who have been in my life, stand up a little taller, and hack my way through it 'til I get there.

I just kinda liked the mental image of myself taking a figurative machete to anxiety-trees. I mean, come on, picture me trying to hack my way through ANY kind of vegetation without somehow injuring myself. Even if it is metaphorical vegetation.

I don't want it to be assumed that I'm unhappy. About 80% of my life is pretty awesome. I'm happy with my husband, with my friends, with my family.

I am just an anxious little person, and late spring and summer this year have not been the uneventual type of seasons that allow me to put that anxiety somewhere else for a while.

I need to stop looking at all of this jumping from hope to hope as something wearying, and start looking at it the way little kids look at jumping from rock to rock across a creek without trying to touch the water. Sure, you don't want your feet to get wet and there's a constant chance that you'll fall in, but there's a reason little kids do that as a game.


That ended up a lot longer than I meant it to be.

But I suppose if I'm only going to update every 8 to 10 days or so, I might as well let myself ramble a bit, huh?

Besides, I wouldn't be me if I couldn't turn a "Well, I should post up a picture or something and show people I'm still around" update into three pages of where my brain is at right now.

I'm going to go watch Anthony Bourdain on Netflix now.

And snuggle my cat.

And it's going to be awesome.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lazy Sunday

After a pretty hard week of work, I have today off (and this coming Saturday off!) and I am trying to make the most of it. By "make the most of it", I mean watch documentaries on Netflix about the Lost City of Z, fitfully work on cleaning the living room, eventually cook dinner, and otherwise do as little as possible. Working on sketches for a painting, too, hopefully.

The best way to rediscover the inspiration and the energy to commit pencil (or brush) to paper, I suppose, is to just force myself to start and try to hide all the absolute piles of awful I produce until I can get myself back into it mentally, too.

The organizational effort is still in its early fits and starts. I took up the To-Do List idea, but it turns out I keep forgetting to take it with me and therefore forgetting what it was I had to do. I have a planner, but I've had some forgetting-to-take-it-places issues with that, too. But I'm getting better.

This is really just a what's-up-with-me quick little update. The answer, in the end, is not all that much.

Last week was not an energy-happy week in any way at all. I'm going to work on that this week.

One thing I definitely have succeeded at is sleeping more, getting the 7 to 8 hours all at once. So that's good. But I haven't noticed any definite uptick in energy from it. I'm as drained by long days as I ever was.

Today, though?

Today, if I want to sit down, I can sit. If I want to go sit on the couch and read about agate or flip through 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern or scribble little thoughts down on a piece of notebook paper, I can just do that.

And I'm not going to take that truth about days off for granted.

Which means I really need to get back to leisurely sipping my coffee.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Well, this got long.

How completely and quintessentially me it is to buy a book on organization and then immediately get so disorganized I forget to start my new book on organization.

Which I must admit to you is what happened with my get-organized-week-by-week book. I thought about it, I ruminated on it, I decided I was going to start on this path to a clutter-free me right away.

And then I immediately began cluttering all over the place, quite happily piling books on the couch and letting them live there in blissful harmony with the cushions until I remembered why, exactly, those books were stacked there in the first place.

Those of you who know me fairly well cannot be anything remotely close to surprised by this development. I am the queen of forgetting this plan or that, getting so wrapped up in some new idea that I forget the other ones half-finished.

This week has been an energizing week for me, at least mentally... The kind of week that reminds me that there was something I was meant to be doing.

Oh yeah.


organize now! by Jennifer Ford Berry had the looks of the kind of book I could use; it's broken down week by week, with tasks broken down into smaller ones. Organizing one's life can be overwhelming, even when you are 25, don't own a house, don't have children and have only a husband and a cat making faces at your messiness.

(okay, I don't actually know that's what the cat is making faces about... I just know she makes faces)

This week there were some hopeful developments when it came to our future financial stability and my own willingness to dig myself out of this awful lack-of-creativity rut and get working already; get painting, get drawing patterns for my coffee-bag purse, get working on ideas with a friend of mine for a project that could definitely be very cool.

As it stands, though, I am still at the series of steps on the way to figuring myself out where I'm mostly staring ahead at a large and seemingly never-ending canyon of stuff that needs to be done.


We start at the very beginning.

(it's a very good place to start. I promise I won't start singing.)

Week 1 is, first and foremost, about getting one's head together. Deciding what you want out of your organized life. Deciding to be "cleaner" is all well and good, but if the reason you are full of clutter is because of a dissatisfaction with where your life is... you can empty out boxes and boxes of art supplies but that won't fix the reality that I haven't been working on the paintings I need to be paying attention to.

Er, forgive that sudden switch from second-person perspective to first. I'm writing very stream-of-consciousness right now.

So the very first step on the first week's goals it to answer a series of questions. I am keeping a small green notebook to jot down some of those answers.

Question 1 is actually a series of questions, based on your idea of a 'perfect life': where would you live, what would you do to earn an income, what would you do for fun.

The most important questions in Question 1 are the following:

"What would you do more of?"

My answers:

Paint. Draw. Create jewelry. Take photos. Time with Jason. Garden. Read. Time with family. Craft. Time with friends.

It lets you see what your goals for your free time are, which really is what I'm attempting the most to organize. My job is clear and well-defined, for the most part; it needs no organization on my part. My life outside of my job is what needs to be torn out of its current chaos.

The other important question:

"What would you do less of?"

My answers:

Computer time. TV. Staying in. Nothing. Procrastinating. 

 So I have my answers of what needs to change in my free time.

What I need to take up next week: Making a To Do list of what needs to get done that day, even things that don't seem like that big of a deal... anything that I really need to get done that day. I need to think about what the next year or so is going to look like, as I make each step. I need to consider what I have to change about my current mental state to allow myself to maintain any of the steps I'm about to take.

Not sure if I'm ready for week 2, but I came home from work today with an energy to my step that I haven't had, really, in weeks.

There are some things on my plate right now that could really get big, in wonderful ways, or could blow up in my face.

I am finding myself anticipating seeing which it is, doing everything in my power to make sure it's positive.

So my first steps are going to be to try to dial down all the anxiousness and chaos in my head, and then start applying that to my life outside of my brain.

I really hope this wasn't the most boring blog entry any of you have ever read... this was really me kind of talking out loud to you and to myself. I haven't been talking to my blog really lately. I was never great at the lengthy entries here... there's too much I try to keep at least semi-private. But I'm trying to open up more, and be more honest, as part of what I am trying to accomplish.

I feel like honesty's working for me so far.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In Which Your Narrator is Boring

My latte from The Coffee Hound during my visit to Illinois

You may have noticed I did a small amount of not posting last week... in that I basically didn't post at all. Well, last Tuesday was my anniversary with Jason - our three-year-anniversary - and between work and attempting to get out and be active with Jason and yet more work, I haven't really had time to really think.

Except in those short bursts you get when out and about, when you think to yourself, "Oh, I know what a good blog entry would be about!" and by the time you get home you've completely forgotten all about it.

In any case, last week we had dinner at the Trappe Door for our anniversary when I got out of work; we split an appetizer and an entree, and had a beer and a dessert apiece. Our entree was moules and frites; mussels and fries. Oh man, that is a heavenly combination I had never actually tried before.

Wednesday, with my day off sort of wide-open for adventure, we went back up to Table Rock. I still can't hike all the way to the top or even remotely close, but I definitely got twice as far this time as I did on my first try. It's a hike listed as "strenuous", and it is not kiddin' around. I have some pictures, but managed to misplace my cord for getting them into my computer. So more on that later.

A roasted garlic scone from the Coffee Hound

I spent this weekend working: closing shifts Friday, Saturday, and another closing shift tonight. While it's nice in that I get to sleep in, it also basically kills any chance of me doing anything especially fun this weekend that I get to tell you about. I could tell you about making lattes and coffee for people, but you already know the basics on that stuff, right?

However, I noticed I had these pictures from my trip to Illinois lurking about, ready to post, so I decided to go ahead and put them up here. Coffee and a scone from a little coffee shop in Bloomington-Normal, on a really nice morning when Mom and I went into town just the two of us and kind of meandered around. We have a very particular form of shopping we do; we wander, back and forth, looking at this or that, until we finally decide we can glean no more fascination from the same stuff in the same store. Only then do we buy.

It is a form of shopping that drives anyone who does not shop that way insane.

As I'm basically killin' time until my closing shift tonight, I haven't got any super-cool plans for today. My next day off is this coming Wednesday. I'll have to do laundry that day.

See, this is why I didn't update... my life is less than exciting. I plan to spend the afternoon working on the magazine version of the "Rule of One More"; taking the parts I like and want to keep for re-reading out of magazines so I can throw them out... making space for more magazines! Yay, more magazines!

Jason does not like my version of the Rule of One More.

Mine is an evil laugh.

Since we're on a roll of 'food-themed' pictures for this entirely not food-themed entry...

Here is one more than I have. It's pumpkin blossoms, sort of a regional thing I suppose; most people I meet since I moved out of the Midwest have never heard of eating pumpkin blossoms. I've noticed squash blossoms appearing in recipes more lately, and it's really the same concept.

Oh man, are they delicious. The taste of coming home in late summer is pumpkin blossoms. Yum.

Oh sure, they look fried and unhealthy and delicious and...

well, they are fried. Also unhealthy.

Also delicious.

Hopefully next time I'll have something a little more exciting than pumpkin blossoms and my work schedule, heh.