Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Clockwise Spiral


I moved.

It was not a planned move. It came fraught with emotion, disruption of the flow of life, and the divestiture of many belongings. It was therapeutic and traumatic, good and bad, and came at the same time I managed to badly tear the rotator cuff in my left shoulder putting a lightweight lawn chair into my car.

When the tear happened, I heard what sounded like someone tearing a chicken leg off a carcass. If felt that way, too. Generally, it was pretty unpleasant.

I saw stars, wanted to pass out, felt like throwing up, discovered new limitations, made new adaptations, and had to move forward despite the pain. It was, on a whole, a fairly apt metaphor for the entire process of rearranging my life in a new space.

In the midst of the chaos, I was blessed with the help of friends and family, some of whom traveled great distances to assist in the move. I am very fortunate, and I know it.

My new place still does not feel like home, despite me having been here for over a month now. Funny and yet perhaps not so odd for someone who used to bounce from place to place (and horrible hotel to horrible hotel) on the planet to have trouble settling in somewhere again. The new place is a top floor unit with a sunny balcony for plants - and an umbrella for my pale flesh. It's very nice to no longer have to hear people tromping around above me. Even my petite former upstairs neighbors sounded like they were running a Benihana's in the kitchen. From what I could hear, the husband had killer knife skills.

A new neighbor is moving in downstairs from me today - a 19-year-old guy with mom and dad footing the bill (they are discussing many matters on the balcony, hence I have learned this). We'll see how sound travels up from below.

The kitchen in my new place is open, so I've lost a wall and loads of storage space, but I've been creative about finding a place for everything, including a plastic shoe rack on the back of the kitchen door for all my cooking doodads. Ingenious, no?

It's hotter up here. The little balcony has no shade, and the heat seeps in through the windows and doors. When I lost power in a storm a week ago, the temperature climbed to 95 in short order. But I have fans. Everywhere. Towers, room air circulators, you name it.They do their job, and generally I don't mind the higher heat that much, until I've climbed the three stories up from the laundry room. Then, I'm a giant sweatball, more than willing to stick my head in the freezer (which has an icemaker, for the recorda first world thing of beauty).

But one of the tradeoffs for the temperature is that visitors swing by the plants outside my window, including this little guy below who just zipped by right now for a quick nip at the plants.

Hummingbird! Cooooool!
I know the new place is home and it will feel like home... eventually. After 19 years with my stuff anchored to the same place, it takes time to readjust. I'm just not very patient with myself. Damn first world immediate gratification gene.

Side note: I just realized my new downstairs neighbor was born the year I moved into the old apartment. Holy crap. To quote They Might Be Giants, "You're older than you've ever been, and now you're even older..."

Suddenly, I need a very strong Irish coffee. Where's my Jameson's?

In the big picture, this move is good and I will get my head wrapped around everything at some point. Just don't ask me where my iron is. I have no idea. I've put some things away that had adorned my walls for almost two decades, rediscovered things long forgotten on back shelves, and embraced styles and elements that I've loved since I was a kid. Life is short and uncertain, I have come to acknowledge. Hang the art you like.

My Gibson Girl debutante is watching over my shoulder as I type.

I'm not the only person I know experiencing change. Some of my friends are undergoing truly major transitions right now. Jobs, relationships, births, deaths... some I know, including a couple I love more than life itself, are looking at very high walls, heartache, and new paths, and I need to find ways to be helpful to them without being a pain in the ass. While I've never been a mother (although some might say I *am* a "real mutha" when they cross me), the mothering gene is there, and I feel it in my gut and heart when friends are suffering or lost. I want nothing more than to hold them in a fear-crushing hug and tell them all again and again that things will be okay.

Things will be all right. It all takes time.

Truth is, every single time I think this or write this or say this, it's not just for my friends. It's for me, too. Things will be all right.

Sometimes I feel like the clock that measures the whole of our lives doesn't just turn on a dial, but starts to spiral and spin out of control. We need to reach out and still the hands and reset the clock. And in that moment, that quiet moment, consider where we want to go when the hands turn again.

Right now, I'm trying to stop my clockwise spiral for a brief moment and decide what I need to do, what I want to do, before setting things in motion again. And if you need to do that, too, then go ahead. Still your hands for a second. The world can wait for you.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcome to new friends from The Listserve!

This is not hyperbole: I am touched, amazed, humbled, and overwhelmed (in a good way) to have received such lovely messages from folks who read my email via The Listserve. Over 200 individuals have reached out and shared their stories with me so far today, and I am grateful for the honesty and openness of each and every one. There is something really remarkable and transformative about being able to reach out to so many people around the planet in the blink of an eye, and find we have so much in common. The details may be different, but we all have a story to tell, challenges to overcome, changes to make, adventures to begin.

Here is my jumping off point. What comes next?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Come see me and my monkey at InterventionCon!

Hello, 2.5 loyal readers! I vanished for a couple of months there, eh? Funny thing happened: I moved. It was not by my choice. No, I was not evicted, but the owners of the condo where I'd lived for 19 (!!) years informed me of their plans to move into their unit as they downsized. Short story: I now live in the unit above my old home - quiet, mellow, hummingbirds checking out the Home Depot plants my bro and bro-in-law got for me. I am closer to the surface of the sun (by one story), so it's hotter up here, even with the A/C.

But all of that is a story for my next post, which has been perking in draft purgatory for a few weeks. It will come.

For now, I want to share with you that the Sasquatch (aka James Quigley, the letterpress craftsman/owner of Model Citizen Press) and I will be in the vendor room at InterventionCon in Rockville, Maryland this coming weekend, selling gorgeous handmade letterpress cards and prints with James' lovely work:

His little birds that will grab your heartstrings...

Wonderful old inventions...

 Funky vintage typewriters...

Even a little pop culture homage... (if you know it, you know it!)

He's got all sorts of cool stuff. Some of the cards even feature art by me! You want zombie sock monkeys?

We got zombie sock monkeys!

I even put my Russian culture education to use. We have cards with matryoshki for weddings for straight, gay, and lesbian couples. 

There are new baby cards, too, with diverse families, too. (We also have a cat matryoshki card. "Katryoshki.") 


James made cards from my mermaid drawings...

And my zaftig cherubs -- which I hand-colored with water color pencils.
If I get my ass in gear and a signing pencil in my hand, there will be some limited edition prints of my funky peacock, too. ("Funky peacock" is not a euphemism, for the record. It's a bird.)

James makes all these good things on a vintage Vandercook Proof Press at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring, which is a very cool place to learn how to make art of all sorts.

So, come back soon to read the saga of the 14-step apartment move and the epic quest for my security deposit (all battled one-handed with a torn rotator cuff, huzzah!) For now, if you're in the area, come and see us and buy some Model Citizen Press cards. Once you go letterpress, you're never going back to drug store greeting cards! (And hey—if you can't come to Rockville, you can check out the cards on the Etsy store site.)
Be there, aloha.