Refining the vision

You may have noticed a little facelift here on the blog. It was time to give it a makeover, as I’d stuck with a theme I didn’t really care much about for far too long. The new look here is one which will feel familiar to visitors of my art site – which is still being worked on behind the scenes, so it’s not updated just yet – as they’re built on the same WordPress Twenty Fourteen theme. The fact that they’re both sharing similar elements is a little insight into the way I’ve been thinking lately- I need to simplify. Everything.

I find that I’m becoming less tolerant of bullshit and unnecessary complexity, not just in my blogging/site life, but in life in general. Becoming familiar with one theme for two sites is allowing my brain to focus that extra space/power once allocated for unnecessary complexity onto the next most important thing that matters. This is the future, boys and girls. For me, anyway.

I’m taking that way of thinking into all areas of my life. I’m refining the vision I have for myself, my future. Work, play- they are equals in this shift. I’m eating more simple foods (a lot of which is vegan). I’m working on saying ‘no’ to people who want something from me. I’m cutting back on areas of my life which directly compete for my time and attention in favour of applying all I got into my career and a life I want to live.

I resigned from teaching life-drawing. I’d done it for over three years, and it’ll be over 160 classes by the time I pack up my materials after the final session. It was an important part of my life, but that chapter needs to close so that I may focus more energy on the successes ahead of me with my career. I have big goals and the only way to achieve them is to march ever forward, carrying as few distractions and satellite obligations as possible. I’m brave enough to make the sacrifices.

Saying that, I have a “like”/hate relationship with Facebook. (See what I did there?) Largely, I can’t stand that self-absorbed, over-valued, daily mumblefest that teases me with updates from people with which I often have little in common. The guilt duty I (and others) feel to follow up, like, keep up with, and absorb the daily activities of others is a weight I would like to reduce. I’d quit it all together, but you see, I am not immune to its platform of “look at me” bullshit. I post stuff, but I’m going to post less. Most of my posts there will be automated from this blog, Instagram et al, and that goes for my “professional” Jen Dixon Arts page there too.

I read a very interesting quote in the latest Artists & Illustrators magazine and it resonated with the direction I see myself heading. A professional portrait painter spoke of the artist she studied with and assisted:

He falls out of bed and he’s in the studio. From him, I also learnt that you have to say what you want to say – if you are a storyteller or artist, there is no time to waste on Facebook.

If I want to achieve the future I have in mind, this journey of refining, cutting back, throwing out, and change has only begun.

Everything old is 24 again

I’m having an awesome day. Seriously, I am. Though I’ve been battling severe seasonal allergies (which have left me spluttering in bed for large portions of my days) I have located some prescription allergy pills from the last time this snifflepalooza occurred. This is helping, and I feel almost human today. Saying that, I’m still weakened, but have a spark back in my being. I took advantage of this and arranged a trip up to Bude (10 miles up the road) to poke around the outdoor skatepark. Sure, I masked the true mission with the old, “Hey, Pete, doncha have stuff to take to the dump and I need bananas from the store I might have my skateboard with me wanna come” but really, I wanted to put wheels to transition.

I’ve had insomnia off and on for about a month. For about a week or so, I haven’t been able to shut my brain off when in bed. One thing in particular has kept my brainmeats obsessing at all hours and that is skateboarding. I’ve watched videos, read some online magazine content, been looking at more retail sites and eBay auctions than is healthy – all about skateboarding. My brain is processing it all constantly, as it knows it needs to work overtime to digest 15-20 years worth of skate data. Two things strike me about these years I’ve ignored skateboarding: Firstly, there are loads of the old schoolers still skating and popular, and secondly, there has been a veritable explosion in the number of girls on boards. It’s heartening and inspiring.

So, Pete and I headed up to Bude. We did a few errands, then I drove us to the skatepark. No one there- perfect. We paid 50p for parking, then I strapped into my new kneepads, old elbow pads, and gave him my car keys. My trucks were too loose for my liking, so after a minor adjustment, I went to the halfpipe.

I haven’t dropped in yet (remember, I’m weak and full of massive amounts of medicines), but I did pump back and forth up the transitions, fighting the urge to smack up onto the coping. I’m not ready for that and I know it. What I did manage was to feel that old feeling of control and power on a board, gain confidence turning in the transition again, all while smiling like a drunken monkey in a cupcake factory.

I’m going to keep going during the unpopulated hours of the day to build my strength and confidence again, but if today was anything to go by, I’ll be improving to my old standards in no time.

After a little skate time

After stopping my skate session sensibly before I wore my allergy battered self out (and fall down – which I didn’t – WOO-WOO!), Pete and I went to the grocery and I got those aforementioned bananas and lots more. I noticed a sale price on Southern Comfort (Neil’s favourite tipple) and added it to the trolley. At the checkout, the lovely older lady at the till asked me for ID. Let me just say that again in a slightly different way… I GOT CARDED! WOO-WOO! I’M 42! She would’ve guessed 24, she said, hence having to ask. So, yeah. I revived an important part of my past and must have the glow of it. I also take pretty good care of my skin, so, you know, I’ll be continuing with that.

Hoping to skate a little bit tomorrow with a local surfer friend. Good times.

Everything old is new again

A long, long time ago, I was a skateboarder. Probably started when I was about fifteen, skated until I was through art school. Possibly longer, I don’t clearly recall. I dabbled occasionally after that, but mostly my boards stayed packed away in corners of rooms, old skate bags, or even became art I hung on the wall.

I was never particularly good at street skating, though I went out a lot, had fun, and tried. I loved half pipes, and I skated a lot of them. I had a couple at my house (one, dangerously built in my low-ceiling basement), one in my yard (it was junked by another skater and half-ass resurrected at my house), and I’d skated several from other locals. The first skate park I ever skated was Bill Danforth’s in Dayton, Ohio. That was such a huge deal for me. My mom took me, and it was terrifying and brilliant. It changed me. I skated a park somewhere around Pittsburgh where an on/off boyfriend worked. I painted murals for free skate time at an indoor park in Janesville, Wisconsin. It was in Wisconsin that I pretty much mothballed my boards.

Then, years later, I moved to the UK. I debated whether to bring the skate gear with me, but it was such an important part of me, my history, my memories that I couldn’t resist. I’m so glad I have it all because I’ve recently begun stripping down the parts and refreshing everything to skate again. Call it a mid-life crisis or return to more carefree times, but I’m about to pad up and drop into a half pipe for the first time in over fifteen years. I can’t wait. Well, I have to, as I’ve got parts coming for my main complete board, and a couple new pads as the cushioning foam has all but perished in my old ones… Suffice it to say, I shall most likely be skating again by the weekend.

Here’s a couple photos I dug out from “back in the day” – the day being somewhere around 1989. My closest skate buddies, Mark (L) and Chad (R) were in some of my senior photos, as you can see here. Mark is propped up by one of my own skateboards, one that is getting new hardware now. I’ve been in touch with them both this year (the wonders of Facebook) but this may be the first time they’ve seen this photo in more than a decade. The black and white photo is of me in my skater prime, sitting on a front porch. Chad – that’s your old house, isn’t it? (click photo to enlarge)
The final scrap of nostalgia for this post is a receipt from 1989 I found in my scrapbook. This is the same deck I’m skating now (along with the one in the senior photo). Wow. (Interestingly, the shop was interested in sponsoring me, but I think it was because the owner may have had a crush on me. He was cute, but I knew I wasn’t good enough to be sponsored.)

So, now I’m waiting for a few hardware bits to arrive in the post. I’ve got some new stuff already, and even a set of vintage wheels (new- old warehouse stock) from my “old school” era.
Here’s hoping I pick up where I left off, and that when I drop in on half pipe in Bude’s skatepark, that I nail it and don’t break any of these old bones. ;)

sharing too much since 2003