Still Going Strong, But…

July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Jason and I are still going strong, but I’m remembering how awful it can be to be in love. He’s applying to grad school and is, as I’m sure you can imagine, incredibly stressed out. I don’t know what to say because everything everyone said to me when I applied to grad school didn’t make me feel better, it just made me want to scream or pull my hair out or both. One thing I’m very careful about not saying is “Of course you’ll get in!” Because I’ve learned time and time and time again that that’s complete bullshit, just like when people tell me “Of course you’ll get the job!” Why not say something helpful like, “You did your best! Now we wait.”

Part of what I hate about being in love is that aching feeling you have in your heart when you watch the person you love struggle or stress. I want him to get into this grad program soooo badly because I know how important it is to him, but I also know I can’t do a damn thing to help (more than I already have editing his essay, anyway) and if he doesn’t get in, he’s going to be devastated. What can I do to make him feel better? How can I handle watching the man I love suffer like that? What do I say?

I also hate being in love because I worry about him a lot. He bikes to work and refuses to wear a helmet despite my constant, incessant nagging. His pet name for me is “Bwana” because I’m so bossy sometimes. I also fuss at him for not eating as well as he should, but he doesn’t have a lot of options in the hospital cafeteria, so I guess I have to be patient with his eating habits until he gets a different job. We both hate the hospital hours since we almost never know when he’s actually going to get off, and it’s almost worse when he’s on call because we’re constantly on edge (or at least I am) that he’s going to get called in at any time. He got called in at 7:30am on Sunday. Bye bye brunch plans…

Of course, this isn’t to say that being in love isn’t worth the extra stress, anxiety, and potential heartbreak. It is totally fucking worth it. We also really couldn’t be a better match. He’s worked with mentally ill people in the past so he’s incredibly understanding of my condition and I’ve been very good about being open and honest about my status (still super healthy and happy, btw!) and why I react certain ways sometimes. He doesn’t get angry with me when I respond negatively to something, instead he lets me know he’s upset immediately and makes me talk through it with him. That’s just huge to me — he doesn’t let things build up until they explode, he keeps his temper in check, and he actually listens to me when I explain what’s going on in my messed up little brain. It really helps that he knows I’m trying to get better, there’s just more than a decade of damage that has to be overcome.

I could go on and gush about all the ways we’re perfect for each other, but I won’t bore you with that. I’m just incredibly relieved to have found someone who seems like just the man I’ve been looking for all these years. I’m meeting his family this weekend which makes me super nervous, but he said even if they don’t like me, it won’t change how he feels. That’s some reassurance, I suppose.

I’ve had a lot of subconscious anxiety about fucking this up though, mainly in regards to Mark. Obviously Mark and I are never going to get back together and I am 100% in this with Jason, but my subconscious seems overly concerned with an brief, but devastating, explosion of passion with Mark since our chemistry is so goddamn ridiculous. My dreams have been working through this in annoyingly crystal clear vividness and I wake up feeling guilty even though I know 1. that will never ever happen and 2. my dreams aren’t expressing a desire, they’re expressing a concern. I don’t want that with Mark, I just know from our history that sometimes when we’re around each other, the sparks between us are more like lightning bolts. I think that’s the only thing that would ruin things between Jason and I, which is likely why my brain is fixating on it. Depressives hold on to things that cause us pain, and the thing that would break me right now is to lose Jason, especially to lose him that way. God, he’s so damn wonderful, I really don’t want to fuck this thing up.

I really don’t want to fuck this thing up. If there’s a “one” for me, he’s it.

Impossible/Irrational

July 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

I consider myself a pretty rational person, despite the mental illness, my short temper, and my hormonal lady swings. So I know, rationally, it’s impossible to fall in love with someone after a mere 3 dates. It’s *impossible.* That’s not what rational people do. It’s just infatuation, right? Or over-excitement? I know it has to be something other than love, but dammit I’ve been in love before and this is exactly what it feels like. He just seems like the perfect match for me. He’s everything I could hope for in a man. It’s unreal, impossible.

My favorite thing about being in love is the feeling that anything is possible because now you can do the impossible with another person. The world isn’t a scary place of danger and failure anymore; it’s a place of possibility, opportunity, excitement. I know this can’t be love, but I’m riding this wave until it crashes.

Impossible, improbable love.

Fear II

June 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

While most Alabamians are out enjoying this gorgeous weather, I’m stuck in bed sick and worrying about being shot. I grew up in the age of Columbine, so school shootings are something I’ve thought a lot about, using that slaughter to mark the end of my childhood as I realized I could die anywhere, anytime. This is always present in my mind in some way, though I usually picture it as a random situation rather than being hunted down. 

In the wake of the recent Santa Barbara school shooting, I’ve been thinking more carefully about my own risk. The shooter’s vocalizations and writings about his terrifyingly misogynistic views towards women have stuck a special cord with me, leading me to reevaluate my own safety here in Birmingham. 

As some of you know, I was stalked and harassed by a young man over a period of four years. I felt reasonably safe for most of that time because I didn’t live in Alabama, but when I moved back to Birmingham, my concerns rose to such an extent as to have the police investigate whether said stalker had a gun license or permit. After seeing him in my neighborhood, I was relieved to move out to Texas where I could hide in anonymity. But now I’m back in town again, and he’s seen me here. So with that in mind already, plus the rantings and ravings of a lunatic rejected by women in Santa Barbara, I once again feel my own vulnerability. I hesitate every time I leave my house when I know I’m entering into the public sphere where I have no protection against lunatics with weapons who view me as theirs despite my constant, clear rejection. 

So what do I do? What can I do? I’ve been looking into taking some self-defense classes (which are LONG overdue), purchasing a tazer, and even buying a gun of all things (yes, I can shoot. I’m from Alabama, after all.) but really, none of that will protect me from someone who wants to shoot me. The self-defense and tazer aren’t bad ideas though because I do reject guys at bars firmly and without wimpy excuses. I simply say “I’m not interested.” with my most serious, intense look which I think is far more feminist a thing to say than “I have a boyfriend.” It’s certainly better than letting a guy buy me a drink and follow me around the rest of the night. Unfortunately, men don’t like rejection and far more insecure men don’t like a woman being blunt and to-the-point when she rejects them, so I have feared for my safety a few times in retrospect, after I’ve safely made it home but am reflecting on my absurd walk alone to the car. 

Despite the steps we take to protect ourselves, we are always vulnerable. As a woman, I will always be a target, always a victim. I wonder sometimes if being bold and blunt and a feminist (and occasionally a smartass) will result in my demise at the hand of a man who felt disrespected, embarrassed, or rejected. I suppose everything we do has a price. 

So What/Leslie Wayne

June 7, 2014 § 3 Comments

Okay, so I overreacted and was a ridiculous girl like the ones I can’t stand. We all have our moments. Moving forward.

Here’s my review of the Leslie Wayne:

My Thoughts on Leslie Wayne: http://www.lesliewaynestudio.com/

Last night, I attended a lecture and opening reception for Leslie Wayne’s exhibition “Mind the Gap” at UAB’s AEIVA, a brand new space created with three galleries, an intimate (and in my opinion, too small) lecture hall, state-of-the-art classrooms, and offices for the Department of Art and Art History faculty. While the lecture itself wasn’t terribly informative, I enjoyed hearing the artist speak “on the fly” about her work as she flashed through images of paintings over the last 30 years of her career. Pictures speak 1,000 words anyway, don’t they? I for one was thrilled by the chance to see so much of her work, though she only let us savor the slides for a few seconds each. 

Wayne is one an artist who I judged far too quickly, completely misunderstanding the substance of her work and assuming I knew what her paintings were without going in for a closer examination. Her works constantly bridge the gap between paintings and sculpture, tricking the eye into thinking paint is some other material while forcing the viewer to see paintings for what they are: PAINT. So often the viewer is tricked into seeing not the paint in front of them, but the illusion the artist has created. Some artists use impasto, of course, to reveal the painted surface and disrupt the illusion of the image, but Wayne pushes past this, creating no illusion, offering the viewer only paint to consume. 

As always, the downside of seeing slides or photographs of artwork is that the viewer is robbed of a sense of scale, wrongly assuming dimensions based on some kind of inner intuition about how large or small a piece should be depending on the amount of detail in it. Perhaps it was wishful thinking for me to assume these works were large, 32×42” or bigger, but the reality is in some ways better. Her paintings are quite small in size with most of the works in the exhibition coming in around 12×18”. She does have some later series with far larger works but alas, they were not in the show at UAB so I can only dream of dazzling they must be when seen in person. 

The small size of these works is a benefit, despite my desire that they be far larger. Were a viewer to take them off the wall and hold them (which I obviously cannot stress enough that you NOT do that), they would fit comfortably within his or her arms. The effect is striking, forcing viewers to really get close to the works, encouraging an intimate experience visually for once must properly examine them from less than a foot away. More importantly, in my opinion, this close proximity enhances the sculptural nature of the paintings, drawing a correlation between the art objects and our human bodies, impressing on the viewer that these paintings are alive in some way, animate, *breathing*. The impulse to touch them is so strong that each painting is guarded by a sign that reads “DO NOT TOUCH,” underscoring how tempting their soft wrinkles, bulges, and crevices are to the tactile sense of a human being. 

We want to caress them, pinch them, hold them, but they’re not solid sculptures that could sustain that intrusion; instead they are merely and completely paint, delicate and fragile as the oils continue to dry over a period of years. Unvarnished, they reveal the true texture of the paint, retaining the glossy areas where the linseed oil has not yet dried and the cracks where the paint has dried and split from the stress of holding itself together. I assume they are rather weighty objects despite their small size, the layers upon layers upon layers of oil paint, stripped away, twisted, and molded into three-dimensional sculptural forms no doubt requires a certain amount of strength to move. She is an artist who plays with the physical nature of painting, the act of destruction and creation, paint as sculpture/sculpture as paint, and the differences between size and scale. She is an artist who works almost solely within a process-oriented studio practice, though she constantly evaluates the intellectual component of her paintings, their relationship with the earth and landscapes, and their dialogue within the contemporary art world. 

In short, I recommend you see this exhibition. Try your hardest not to touch the paintings, though lord knows the temptation is as strong as the apple was for Adam (technically, it was a pear but apple is more in line with the current Christian tradition and the alliteration is pleasing).

June 6, 2014 § 3 Comments

I jinxed it. he was too good to be true and I’m way too fucked up for anyone to commit to. who cares, it’s friday.

Don’t Jinx It, Kiddo

June 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is going to be a quick post because I’ve got an asston of shit to do today. 

1. I’ve gone on two dates now with the most AMAZING guy. I really think we’re a great fit because he’s incredibly talented, intellectual, active, and independent. He owns his own house, has multiple projects going all at once (he’s a freelance writer for the newspaper, in a successful Birminghamfamous band, and works full-time as an electrician), is an animal lover with a passion for shelter pets, is relationship-oriented and a gentleman, cooks for himself, AND…

 

 

wait for it

 

 

wait for it

 

 

HE’S MY AGE. 

I mean, honestly, it’s some kind of crazy cosmic shit that I would not only enjoy the company of someone my own age but be interested in a serious relationship with someone my own age. I’m trying to play it cool with him (plus I have a lot of my own shit going on to distract me) but I’m super excited to see where this goes. 

2. I’m actually starting to run out of things to volunteer for and have been turned down a couple times for events because they already have enough volunteers. I need to start planning ahead more to make sure I keep my schedule full. 

3. I’m teaching a two week summer camp for children at Space One Eleven, a local gallery and art center that I adore. Camp starts on Monday but I just found out yesterday that nothing has been planned for it so I have to frantically put together the projects, materials list, and equipment setup for the camp by Friday. Eek! 

4. I helped (more like forced) Dad clean up his woodworking shop because I’ve got a number of projects lined up. He’s going to be gone for most of the summer starting today, so he said I can rearrange the shop however I’d like since I’m the only one using it. But since he’s gone (and will be on the Appalachian Trail for about two months), I’m pretty much on my own to put my projects together. I likely won’t even be able to get in touch with him if I hit a major problem or issue with the wood or power tools. That’s okay though, I’m used to being on my own. And since mom will be with him (bless her heart!) she won’t be able to hover around and worry that I’m going to chop a finger off, haha. Aw, bless her. 

Things I’m working on: 

- Finishing up an ottoman I’m rehabbing. Picked it up on the side of the road, it smelled TERRIBLY of cat pee so I ended up taking the whole thing apart and saving only the frame and feet. No biggie — Dad and I made a top for it so I just need to put on all the padding, screw the top onto the frame, and upholster it! it’s as good as done. 

- Making a floor-to-ceiling slat shelf for my shoes from old pallets. There are three pallets in the parental’s yard already, so I need to take a good look at those and see what can be salvaged, take them apart, and put the boards in a dry, sunny spot so they can dry out enough for me to work with them (some of them have been sitting in the grass for a while). If they aren’t enough, I might just mix and match with old scraps of wood and 2x4s. should be a very easy operation, though. Shouldn’t take more than a day to put the thing together. 

- My biggest project is building a new 3’x6′ dining table. Dad is (rightfully so) insisting I use a Stickley design (Dad’s favorite woodworker, a famous American carpenter in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century who perfected the Mission style within the Arts and Crafts movement) which is fine, but it’s more complicated than simple glue and hammer shit together. Lots of carefully-made joints and well-balanced designs. I want to adapt his dining table design to be a bit more elegant than the rustic, masculine effect of his work, but that shouldn’t be too hard since Dad has every tool I could possibly need. I was reading yesterday about how Stickley cut curves in his boards and it’s as simple as drawing the design well and using a bandsaw. Easy peasy! Plus I think I can use the band saw for most of the tenon pieces and Dad’s square drill press for the mortices. I’m going to distress the crap out of the top boards which should be fun! And should look great once everything is assembled and stained. I’m super excited about this project but getting all the boards might be a challenge since Dad wants me to use white oak (which Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t carry). Better to do it right, though. 

So that’s pretty much what I’ve got going on! I’m trying to clean my apartment this morning but so far it’s going reallllllllly slowly. It was just so clean too! Funny how that happens. Le sigh. Back to the grind! Hope you all are having a fantastic week!

Contentment

May 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’ve been waiting to write this entry, not because of the subject matter, but because I honestly couldn’t think of the word I needed to encapsulate the core concept. “Contentment” is not a word I’ve ever used in reference to my daily life or my intellectual and emotional existences. Contentment is foreign and abstract, something that only other people experience like homosexuality or drug addiction or not having to worry about money. There are things I’ll never know the feeling of and up until a couple weeks ago, I thought contentment was on that list.

My brain runs in overdrive all the time. I never stop thinking. It’s not just that I never stop thinking, it’s that my brain mulls over at least five issues all at once, every second of every day. There is no rest, ever. When I sleep, my brain continues to barrel forward at 100mph, filling my dreams with endless tasks, problems, catastrophes that I must run to try to address, fix, rectify. My brain never rests.

But I have experienced a moment of contentment. For the first time in what I can remember of my life until this point, my brain was quiet. I was in the moment. Relaxing in a jacuzzi tub with a man resting between my legs, his head tilted back on my chest as I stroked his hair. A candle flickering on the side of the tub, casting dancing shadows on the wall. The summer breeze gently caressing our skin exposed above the churning bubbles. Two people, too smart for their own good and too often on the defensive with each other, like objects in orbit, colliding spectacularly and disastrously, periodically for eight years. For that one hour, at the same moment, we both melted into each other and felt our minds turn off. There was silence. There was peace. My mind emptied of thoughts and I drifted into a haze of wine and heat and relaxation and companionship. I was quiet.

That feeling, as I have learned after a week or two of trying to identify it, is called contentment: a state of happiness and satisfaction. That I could achieve such a state is worth a celebration, but that I reached it simultaneously with that man is worth fireworks or perhaps a national moment of silence and recognition. We are so incredibly different and yet cut from the same cloth. Always trying to figure the other one out but doing so by peeking over the fortress walls we’ve built around and between ourselves, sky-high stone walls over which we yell to communicate simple thoughts or toss tokens intended to mean a certain thing yet the meaning is lost as we panic, trying to catch the falling object while wondering if our interpretation of it is even close to what the thrower intended. Despite our walls, despite our distrust, despite our long and muddled history, this man and I shared a moment of contentment. It was astounding.

His fine auburn-colored hair, his freckled skin, his body made up completely of muscle. That moment of contentment. A girl could see a life with that, could see a life composed of that hair, that skin, that body, that contentment. But girls can be silly, bodies deteriorate, and moments are fleeting, aren’t they.

———-

Things are going well for me. I’m volunteering on a weekly basis, staying surprisingly busy for an unemployed person, and dating as much as I can stand though so far that man hasn’t found his voice to describe or define what he wants with me and no one else has come close to holding my interest. I’m always looking for new options, new possibilities to pursue in my search for contentment, my search for happiness and love and satisfaction. I have a date tomorrow that is quite promising but unsurprisingly, I’m reserving too much excitement and judgment until I meet the man, shake his hand, look up into his eyes. I don’t know him and I don’t know what sparks we may or may not have within those crucial first three seconds when I meet him for the first time, that moment when I decide whether I want to be with him or not. My three-second intuition has never been wrong, though many people shame me for being “judgmental” or putting too much on first impressions. Lest you forget, we are animals and our attraction is primarily determined by a chemical process, an exchange of pheromones. My chemistry is specific, exact, and rigid. By no choice of my own, mind you. I was born this way, baby, and I know within the second I meet someone if I’ll be interested in them in any emotional, physical, or intellectual way relating to romance, sex, or friendship. That impression has never changed; my chemistry is that specific and my awareness of it is that attuned.

But I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m imagining evenings cuddled on the couch as I read and he writes and our dogs sleep on the floor. It’s important to have hope and for the first time in my life, I do. I have hope and I feel that it’s realistic, that it’s grounded. Good things are coming my way and perhaps, for once, I deserve them.

Contentment sounds so passive, so subtle, but it’s something worth pursuing. For those of us who never have a moment of quiet, of silence, of peace in our own minds as our inner voices shout over one another, trying to gain the most attention for their thoughts or feelings or questions, we *crave* to an extreme effect the perceived passivity and subtlety of contentment. I want my mind to quiet and I want my heart to be satisfied.

What an amazing feeling, however brief, and shared with a man who is as much my lover as my enemy. Imagine the level of contentment I could achieve with a man I love, trust, and truly can be myself with.

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