Writing again

Hello. It’s been awhile. This site seems to be irregularjen more than regularjen. Blogging for me died off some time ago (through complicated reasons), and yet I think about it a lot. I miss long-form writing and the unapologetic introspection that comes with it. I’d convinced myself that I’m too busy to do this and had nothing to say anyway, but after a morning of being in bed (due to not feeling well) I’m in my studio looking at all the stuff I have to do scattered around me and here I am writing. Hello.

I have been busy lately. Too busy. I haven’t got the balance right and it’s doing things to my mind and body that I don’t like. Thank goodness I’m not doing Open Studios this year because the thought of also having strangers wandering through my house as I prep and frame work for my rapidly approaching exhibition fills me with dread. I would’ve certainly imploded. As it stands, I am near that reaction anyway.

I teach too much, create too little and it’s catching up with me. My recent reason for creating art is to provide examples of how-to things for others, and in the few and far between outbursts of creativity I have for myself, I am so filled with anxiety over being out of creative practice that if I don’t have a glass of wine in me I sit in a paralysed state under my daylight bulbs, flipping through social media whilst anxiously chewing my cuticles to throbbing soreness. I can do that shit for hours. This isn’t sustainable. None of it.

The teaching I do online is rewarding. The teaching I do in the studio is rewarding. That’s the problem. Both bring in decent money. (That too, is rewarding.) But what am I doing? I’m having a big think about shifting the power balance back to what I want as a long-term work/life balance. I need the income and I like teaching, but I have to create some disciplined structure which will allow for my proper creativity to grow again. I have a loose plan forming.

A thing has to be important enough to make change, and when you find that tipping point it’s best not to ignore that opportunity. I can do all the things I want to do, I’m sure of it. Pete has a tattoo in latin that means “I shall find a way or make one,” which fits well with my idea of making change. I’ve been working hard to create sustainable income, but it’s costing me in other ways. I know we all make sacrifices in our work lives, and I am fortunate to be working in art, but I need to find a way to love making art again. I have to. Inveniam viam aut faciam.

Culling an information overload

I am certain I’m not the only one who does this: Find an interesting article online, or a product to look at in more detail later, and whack it into the Reading List feature of the Safari browser. [This is assuming you are on a Mac, iPad, or iPhone.]
Once I do that, I completely forget to reference those ever-so-important things again. My brain is convinced its dealt with the information, having diligently filed it with all the other ever-so-important things. The mountain of links grows and grows, and I’m totally convinced things are just fine.

One of the tasks Pete has been tackling for months is getting his own reading list under control. Now, his level of lack of control is something I can only dream of possessing, but in his head, he had an information problem. As I’m writing this, he’s got about 30 items in his reading list. I’m down to 547 after spending ALL DAMN DAY very quickly assessing, speed-reading, saving to Pinterest, and deleting from my whopper of a total of 933 unread items. Approximately 41% of my reading pile is now dealt with. Phew. I need gin.

Now, I was completely happy as a pig in poop having no earthly idea how much I’d let this get out of control. Then Pete brought up this Terminal script he wrote that would calculate the number of articles you have in your reading list, and also spit out a txt file to document your reading list plus bookmarks. I kinda hate and love him for introducing me to this, but hey, if I want to get my proverbial shit in order this year, a major reading list cull is a good place to start.

Actually, it feels great. Kinda like a digital version of going through your wardrobe to discard all the clothes you’ll never wear again. I may have been living in a bubble by having no idea about my reading list mess, but the knock on effect is that I’m now wondering where else in my life – my physical life – I can reduce my junk burden. Shame Pete can’t write me a Terminal script for that… [And don’t even try it, Pete.]

If you’re interested in running the script yourself, it’s on github. Enjoy.

Like a rubber ball

Two days ago, I wrote about suicide. I have struggled to shake the feelings and have pushed myself into doing social things, productive things, and trying to act normal. My success at this is varied. My brain is bouncing all over the place and late last night, after having an argument with Pete, I faced thoughts of death and self-harm again. I pulled out of it, and it’s at times like that, that I’m grateful I have a rubber ball brain that sometimes does what I need. I went to bed. I didn’t hurt myself.

Today has been awkward so far. When you live with someone who also has a depression brain, feeding and leaking into one another is unavoidable. Pete is suffering. We’ve not talked much, but both silently began doing long overdue housework chores upstairs. He tidied some bathroom stuff, we both put away the clean laundry that had piled like a mountain on our upstairs sofa, I cleaned the windowsill of an embarrassing amount of dust. I’m typing this from that little sofa now, so, the morning, although awkward interpersonally, has been productive and positive. We are both still suffering though, and quiet. At least we’re not arguing.

I’m thinking about tonight, about it being the end of 2016, and it’s just another day. It’s easy to look back at 2016 and consider it a shitshow of epic proportions, but that’s not fair to ourselves. I did some positive stuff over the last 365 days and I’m proud of several of them. My online video tuition has been successful, beach cleaning efforts have been amazing, and I have new friendships with incredible people. I will not bury those achievements in the ashes of all the bad stuff that happened. The good stuff deserves recognition, and although in my current state I’m relying on my hardwired objectivity, I can see these things and I am grateful. 2016 didn’t suck; only parts of it did. To give the darkness more credit than it deserves is unfair to the light.

So, I’m not necessarily looking forward to 2017, but I am looking forward to the post-Christmas/New Year pause in productivity. This time of year drives me nuts with the downtime in businesses and the increase in social pressures. Money bleeds away, I eat too much, I drink too much, and I wait until about the second week of January for everything to begin settling back into normal routines. I’m not good with disruption; it is not good for my ADHD, which has an effect on my depression. All major holiday times of the year knock me out of whack.

Just as I’m wrapping up this post, Pete has walked past and done something that made me giggle. And he meant to do it, so even better. There was smiling. The ball keeps bouncing.

sharing too much since 2003