Find my newest linocut print up at The Smudgery! At this point, it’s more of a reminder to myself of the long game. If you’ve been reading my posts recently, you know that I have been feeling overloaded and always in need of more time. But I don’t plan for this to be the norm. This is just a part of the journey and as Blue Scholars say, “that’s why we call it a struggle — you’re supposed to sweat.”
But back to the print. It took me two years and two apartments, from carving to printing to cleaning it up to re-printing. And then finally I had a day off when I could take product photos in the daylight. A crisis over my paycheck and tuition led me to list it in my shop in a fit of desperation. But despite the seemingly-fraught and rushed actions, it had been a slow-crafting process all along and I couldn’t be happier. Sometimes we just need that extra jump to finish the job.
Last Fall, in my first semester of graduate school, I wrote in a reflection assignment for class about how I planned to manage it all. “It all” meaning a full-time job, what feels like more-than-part-time school, and providing some semblance of an adequate life for myself (involving a number of s-words: sustenance, shelter, sleep, social life?). I said a few nice things about maintaining a regular schedule and blogging as a creative outlet. My professor commented, “What a great idea!”
I talked with a friend the other day about her experience in an intensive nursing program while also working full time. Between her clinical hours and her work, she spent seven days a week in a hospital — working. She told me that yes, it was hard, but every day she was so inspired by each of her classes and by her professors. Being in class was her favorite thing to do, and applying her learning to her practice was absolutely fulfilling. She thought, “Wow! This is what it means to love what you do.” It’s not that it was easy, but the love she had for it provided a renewing source of energy and passion.
Some nights dinner consists of boxed mac and cheese, frozen vegetables, and whatever leftover meat is in the fridge. But sometimes those same nights are the ones when you finally submit your last graduate school application, go to yoga with a friend you haven’t seen in months, submit your FAFSA, and make exciting travel plans. I also put stamps on all of my thank you cards to family members that I will mail out tomorrow (I am notoriously bad at sending punctual thank yous!). So maybe my dinner didn’t knock my night out of the park, but I can definitely say that I spent my time doing things that nourish the soul.
Last week was a struggle.
It was the first week back from work after a long winter break. Although controversial, Monday, January 6, 2014 was dubbed “The Most Depressing Day of the Year.” Off to a good start. Tuesday was the height of the polar vortex. While we were nowhere close to Minnesota’s lows, my poor California body was physically unprepared for the high of 7 degrees. I did suit up appropriately, but that didn’t change the fact that it was still bitterly cold out.
Growing up, I always associated crafts with kid projects. Like the time we made “Chinese lanterns” for Lunar New Year, or painted wooden eggs for Easter. (Sidenote: I painted my egg off-white, in a surprising display of foresight and used it as a prank for April Fool’s day. My mom spent a solid minute or two trying to crack it for breakfast). Art was never a consideration for me, in terms of higher education or a career. I had friends who were good artists, and I was not one of them. I am pretty sure I went through most of my young adult life grinding through books and essays, writing papers and trying to figure out some sort of sensible career. I think I am still pretty lost when it comes to all of these adult-y things (and from my informal research, it doesn’t get much better), but at some point in the process I made a birthday card. I don’t remember who it was for or what it entailed, but for the most part, I drew and colored. It was the middle of finals week and I was procrastinating, but instead of making me feel worse, I felt better after making something that I knew could be enjoyed by another. It grew from there.
Tonight has been a night of mental torment. There are so many things I have been meaning to do (all week!), and I want to do it all. But it is also the first night I’ve had the apartment to myself in a while and I want to use the solitude for all of my creative endeavors. There are so many possibilities for tonight, and they are all wrestling for my attention. And the internet. Oh, the internet never helps.