I dream of being that person working in zen-like surroundings with nary a hair out of place waiting to be photographed in all her perfection.
But that person is not me.
I write in chaos. The desk where I normally work at home is covered with books, supplies, fabric and patterns, snacks, and paper. Lots of paper.
It’s not always this bad but I’m no stranger to the chaos. I dream of a perpetually uncluttered desk. It’s a thing of beauty.
Lack of desk/workspace clutter makes me feel exposed, strangely. It frays my nerves and places a chokehold on my creative muscle. Even when I go to the coffeehouse to write, the first thing I do is scatter my papers all over the table like workspace horror vacui. Only then do I begin to feel calm. Only then does the hidden imagery in my brain emerge through the safety of the clutter.
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For today’s blog-learnin’ exercise, I present a 10-count list of things I like.
Disclosure: I really have trouble with this sort of thing. The voice in the back of my head screams, “who gives a shit what you like!” Having had the temerity to type that, it’s complaining that I shouldn’t reveal its existence, as if it’s some family secret. At long last, I finally get it. That voice in the back of my head is a dysfunctional asshole.
Anyway, here’s the list:
Daydreaming. Watching shapeshifting clouds drift overhead, water moving down a stream or river… witnessing any slow or repetitive motion sends me into a sort of hypnotic, daydream world where magical things can happen.
Witnessing the results of someone’s hard work, specifically the mastery of something: a concert pianist performing, an Olympic athlete competing, a novel I love, a work of art… it’s inspiring.
Taking a shower after getting super sweating and/or dirty.
Finishing projects/tasks. Especially things I don’t enjoy. I like putting things behind me.
Smelling lilacs in the spring. My favorite time of year. The world around me bursts out of winter’s cocoon with refreshing color and fragrance.
Seeing my husband’s huge smile. I like to see anyone happy as long as it’s not at someone else’s expense. A genuine smile is divine.
Walking through the woods in the mountains. The crunch of leaves and twigs underfoot. The smell of moss and earth. Scurrying critters.
The feel of a gentle wind brushing against vellus (peach fuzz) hair when I’m relaxed. It slightly stimulates the hair follicle muscles, creating dancing patches of tingly sensation on the skin.
My sister’s humor. No one makes me laugh (or irritates me) like my sister.
The smell of gasoline and other compounds that are terrible for brain health. Which could explain a lot.
I conceived this blog to write about the crafts and art I work on and to indulge in general commentary and observations. It’s supposed to be the kick in the pants I sometimes need to get off dead center on projects.
After all, the blank canvas, the unformed block of stone, an uncut piece of fabric, and the blank page are equally intimidating. They leave me in a paralyzed, almost catatonic state. The pressure of having to write about the work I’m doing necessitates that I do work to write about. It’s just enough pressure to push me off the ledge and into the unknown.
Because this is a decidedly indulgent, self-centered blog, it made sense to refer to myself in the title. ‘Jello’ is an old nickname. This blog is about my life-view, whether through the art I create or the way I see the world. So it’s ‘life in jello’.
I write because I have to. When I miss a day of writing, I feel the grumblings deep within, banging and clanking like the bowels of an old ship retracting its anchor. I become unmoored and drift aimlessly with only the barest of conscious awareness of the world around me. The world and I become things without a labels: untamed, untethered, wild, amorphous, uncertain.
Around the time I turned 30, I dated a man who had behaviors that were maddening. I didn’t have the language to describe his behavior at the time. I only knew it didn’t feel good. One of his tendencies was to ask me what I wanted (to do, to have, etc.) only to declare that he had a better idea then proceed without telling me what the better idea was. I like surprises but his blatant disregard and diminishing of the answers he requested of me was maddening. I didn’t have a label for his behavior, just a dark heaviness that grew within, weighing me down.
I had never been a fan of labeling because it tends to restrict a thing. It always felt as though a label removed the possibility of growth or of taking on other characteristics. Words felt like cages that tamed unnecessarily. Even the names I was given at birth felt like a prison sentence that would shaped others’ perceptions of me.
In all fairness, it would be difficult to move through the world of people without some form of identification. “Hey, you with the purple shirt, curly brown hair, and dimples, typing on your computer…!”
And I guess that’s the point I came to about labeling and language in general. Without that structure of a word cage, thoughts and ideas about a thing can feel like a dark storm cloud threatening to envelope, confuse, and strangle any sensibilities. It wasn’t the enemy I originally felt it was.
Without a label for my old boyfriend’s behavior, I felt imprisoned by it. As soon as I could label his behavior ‘passive-aggressive’, I could distance myself from it enough to more clearly see the behavior for what it was and no longer huddle in its shadow.
Some days are harder that others. The resistance feels greater. Obstacles loom larger. Hope is diminished.
You can fight it. Maybe get pissed off then mold that surge of angry energy into a sort of jackhammer to break through the metaphoric brick wall.
It works sometimes.
But sometimes the jackhammer bounces off the wall and turns you into the mole in a game of whack-a-mole.
One of my minor battles has been trying to learn WordPress. When I say ‘trying to learn’, what I really mean is that I’m nagging myself about learning it so no one thinks I’m a complete loser for obviously not know what the hell I’m doing. I mean, how hard can it be to work with a freaking template?
I berate myself, threaten, and cajole. Whatever I think will work. So far, I’ve been unsuccessful. Persuasion has never been a strong suit. Especially when I don’t really want to do something.
And I don’t want to do this blog. It’s scary to put yourself “out there” and working on this can be time consuming. I believe that my shame of creating a lousy looking, illogically-structured site, and the frustration of not understanding how to work with the interface would somehow prevent me from writing posts, thus avoiding the deeper fears of revealing too much and setting myself up for ridicule. That subconscious tactic has been effective for a few years now.
But something in me shifted recently. I stopped trying to convince myself. I stopped letting superficial concerns keep me from writing. I laid down the law, so to speak. I’m doing the blog no matter how terrible it is, no matter how little I understand about blogging or using WordPress.
The funny thing is that I’m finally beginning to go through the WordPress tutorials to get a grip on this interface. I’ve stopped resisting. This train has left the station and will continue moving forward whether or not I continue kicking and screaming.
For most of my life, Cinco de Mayo barely made a blip in my awareness as anything other than an excuse for people to get drunk on margaritas and nachos. I knew nothing about the origins of the holiday but, thanks to one year of high school Spanish and my love of Mexican food, I was pretty sure Mexico figured somewhere in the equation.
Cinco de Mayo’s meaninglessness transformed into a yearly exercise of painful irony when my mother died on that day. While most of the people around me have a rowdy good time sucking worms out of tequila bottles, I can’t seem to help myself but wallow in shitty memories of my mother’s painful death 20 years ago.
The initial shocking emptiness of her absence mutated into a dark, hideous monster that emerges every year since her death. As I became aware of the holes in my personhood and the role she had in creating them, the emptiness and guilt evolved into a stew of anger, hate, and resentment.
Now, while everyone else seems to be out doing the Mexican hat dance around a taco salad while juggling Jarritos and singing “La Cucaracha”, I’ve struggled with the pain of knowing I’ll never have the relationship with her I would have liked to have.
Regret dominates my thoughts about her. It’s the rice and beans on the buffet of lousy feelings I feast on during the first week in May. It makes me long for the days when Cinco de Mayo meant nothing to me.
The last few weeks, I’ve been sucked into the world of the Mandela Effect. It’s a phenomenon where groups of people share a memory of something but that memory differs from the version that is commonly accepted and documented.
I’ve been watching tons of videos, reading articles, scanning my memory for things that didn’t seem quite right at the time but I dismissed. Something as simple as Edy’s ice cream being spelled with only one ‘d’ rather than the ‘dd’ I’d been used to seeing.
At first, I thought it might have been a copycat company trying to benefit from Eddy’s brand name recognition. When I didn’t see Eddy’s on the shelf, I thought they decided to change the spelling for some reason. It seemed like a dumb decision to me. The pronunciation of Eddy is much more intuitive to me that Edy. Wouldn’t Edy be pronounced with a long ‘e’?
Regardless, I dismissed the internal dialog. I knew nothing about the Mandela effect at the time and felt no reason to do the research on the name. But once I learned that Eddy/Edy’s ice cream is an example of the Mandela effect, I remembered my thoughts about the different spelling. Then, I did a quick search online. Other than references to the Mandela effect, I found no references to Eddy’s Ice cream. I read the company history page on their web site and on Wikipedia which showed that it’s been “Edy’s” since 1928.
That alone cost me a significant chunk of time away from the goals I hope to accomplish this year. Time management might be a problem for me. I am such a work in progress.