Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lemonade - Part Two

We come up against the problem of ideal versus reality a lot when it comes to history, our heroes, and how we want to remember things. This is why the commemorative statue of the Roosevelts in Washington has the dog next to the president.(We love our dogs). Furthermore, President Roosevelt is in his wheelchair because we also like to acknowledge the handicapped and that he managed a war on 2 wheels. Eleanor is sculpted these days sans her beloved furs, as we are also supposed to all hate and abhor the wearing of them and the uncaring individuals that still do. This is a perfect example of something that, while not quite revisionist history, is definitely cherry-picking to fit modern sensibilities.
That is not to say it's not a good monument. It's actually quite awesome, and lovely, and there is actually a monument with a DOG as an integral part of the balance and mood of the piece. I am a fan of dogs balancing out and creating mood in pieces, especially federal pieces. No bland white marble to be found on this.
But you get my point.
You also might think I'm about to be seriously bitchy, but that's not quite it either.
What brought this entire thought stream about was a visit paid to the Philadelphia Museum of Art about 2 weeks ago. They had the paintings of Van Gogh there, which I've already blogged a touch about. They were amazing. I cannot stress that enough. AMAZING. It is the only time I have walked up to a piece and actually felt the energy that the artist attempted to imbue in the very oils mashed in to the canvas. If it were to be rendered as a 3-d plaster for the blind to touch, they would have the rare treat of being able to FEEL this energy. It was amazing to see how many people half reached up to the glass. You just knew they were thinking about feeling the peaks and valleys of that dried pigment. I don't blame them, I did the same multiple times.
I've seen people at art shows before. I've never seen people physically react and move towards a piece in wonder like I have. It was amazing. The people watching was just as inspiring as the artworks themselves.
The problem that I have, and that still nags at me, is the manner in which they pussy-footed around the fact that he was mentally ill. It was most obviously and victoriously set up as a celebration of the artistic spirit, the "fire in the head" that strikes artists and drive them to paint all night without rest and collapse in satisfaction long after the sun has risen. Van Gogh had it, and he had it bad. You could tell the zeal with which he applied his paint, his strokes, the combination of colors... all had the feel of a man caught in the moment. Perhaps this is why people reacted so much, because it was a tangible example of what that moment is like. He managed to actually capture such a fleeting thing for us to study and love and recognize.
There was a vast opportunity here to help point out that the mentally ill aren't all just anti-social scab-pickers and mutterers, though. Having a problem such as that is just one facet of a larger story. It can be a beautiful although at times sad story. It could have done so much more good for the understanding of brain chemistry as it relates to creativity and artistic drive, or to mental health in general. They didn't even have to MEAN for these things to be addressed, even. It would have been understood had the message just been presented up front; "Look, Van Gogh struggled with depression all his life. He shot himself. But look what he managed to do before that, guys, is this not amazing?" No politicizing. No humping social issues behind the scenes. Just facts. That's all it needed, those facts.
Instead there was the subtle mention of "hospitals" here and there, the mention of "recurring illness". A passing reference in the audio commentary about a personal doctor and that he suffered from a "mutilation". (Yo, dude was fucking hard core and cut his own ear off. Mention that shit. People love him, they will allow for this fact!)
It was hard to leave the exhibit. The last painting was one of his most unusual, in that it was painted straight up in to the sky, just branches with flowers. They focused on how joyful it was, how it was painted at the news that his brother was now father to a baby boy... an amazing image, made all the more amazing for knowing the back story on it. He painted that when he was possibly at his most happiest.
And that's it. That and a passing comment in the audio about how he died of a gunshot wound. Not that he did it himself (yes, okay, it's not proven, but pretty assuredly assumed), but that he died. And then we filter past that happy blue painting of the sky and out in to the gift shop, and beyond that the marble of the main hall....
....and when that happened I felt cheated. Really, really damned cheated.
I have struggled with the Unholy Ghost my entire life. I have researched it, medicated it, meditated against it, exercised to exorcise it, and done everything I could. It is a more constant companion than my cat of 13 years, or my husband of 2. I know when all else goes, it will be waiting for me in the corner, biding it's time to where it can slip in and caress my cheek, whisper its withering things in my ear and take the life from me. Thankfully its visits are damned short these days. But it is there.
I'm not going to claim a lofty kinship to Van Gogh because of this. I've read enough articles talking about how creativity and depression coincide. Hell, one of my favorite web comic teams is on constant medication against this same crap. It was their comic and the news for that day that actually, for the first time, made it so I could talk with my spouse openly about it. He respected those men and now had an understanding of what such people could do. It wasn't scary. It was just a facet of a personality. Like enjoying jazz. Or having lactose intolerance. Or collecting baseball cards. You get the gist.
I'm not sure why they felt the need to take one of the most celebrated artists in history and sugar coat the hell out of him and his story. This is when making lemonade from lemons is... well, confusing for one thing. I'm wondering how many people left that exhibition thinking the man had TB. I'm wondering why the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the people who put this traveling show together did a much poorer job of addressing Van Gogh's psychological state that Doctor F'ing Who did. This was lemonade made for reasons I just don't grasp, on something that is actually made MORE beautiful for the flaws the man had. There could've been so much more depth added to it. And they didn't touch it. They just skirted around it in passing, made nice-nice, and attached a happily ever after ending on it.
Lemonade is just one small step away from white-washing when you take it that way. It's not the whole story. It's not allowing for the wonders of the mistake, the miracle of the wabi-sabi-ness in existence. And I personally think people would be a lot less stressed if they realized how much of life was born from mistakes and missteps. Perfection never occurs. Lemonade does. We need to allow ourselves these things, these flaws and moments of fail, and we need to be able to laugh at them, or empathize with them, or love them anyway.
You cheated me, PMoA. Your lemonade tastes a bit bitter.

Lemonade - Part One

There are times when it generally suits one to make lemonade from lemons. After all, we have all had those moments where everything we planned fell to ruination at our feet and there wasn't much else we could do but laugh and keep going. It makes for more interesting and fun moments, too, than the ones so carefully adjusted for.
Today I bring two kinds of lemonade because boy howdy don't we love a good dichotomy here on this blog!
The first? A personal lemonade moment, born out of Just Not Fucking Paying Attention.
Behold. My Sky Scarf as it stands this afternoon.
Now as you can see immediately I took this thing with Vignette, so it's all artsy-like and has a big damn fake light leak in the lower corner. But the details are still there ad the color is still true.
Second thing you will notice is that it looks a little funky up at the top there. That, my friends, is where the JNFPA kicked in while I was knitting. I had gone so far as to cleverly pair up the light gray yarn with the light blue yarn, as it was a lightly cloudy day with just hints of sky poking through. I was knitting along merrily (and with a bit of exhaustion) when I suddenly realized I had stopped doing garter stitch and dropped to stockinette.
Oh crap.
And this stuff is mohair.
Oh crap. You can't "unknit" mohair. You can forcibly separate it from the rest of you piece with a lot of angst and swearing, but you don't unknit/unravel/unwhatever it.
I was prepared to be very, very upset at the entire thing and even moreso at myself for being careless when something dawned on me...
1. The colors together were so delicate that you weren't going to be able tell what I'd done unless I had accidentally knit and then purled the rows.
2. It was the Spring Equinox.
And thus, I hit upon the marvelous idea that, in order to give an idea of where the seasons were, I would knit and then purl the 2 rows on the days of the solstices and equinoxes, to give the scarf a bit of a way to tell time without counting rows.
Lemons to lemonade... done!
And it actually looks rather awesome to boot.
And in this instance, deciding to take something that was not entirely as planned, not how Things Are Supposed To Be and making something rather nifty from it. Or at least ~I~ think it's nifty, and adds a dimension to the scarf that wasn't there before.
There's ways of Doing it Wrong, though, and that will be explained next.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Actual Conversation # Hell if I Know - where candy is discussed.

J [22:17] : who needs an excuse for alcohol
JoJ [22:22] : or you can make druken gummi bears
Me [22:22] : How does that work? Please share?
J [22:25] : 2. Empty Large Bag of Gummi Bears in Fridge
J [22:25] : in bowll*
J [22:25] : 3. Pour Vodka over said Gummi Bears
J [22:26] : 4. Place in Fridge for a few days
J [22:26] : 5. Enjoy
Me [22:26] : I am all for a fridge full of dumped gummi bears and vodka, though.... even without the bowl
J [22:26] : Less Mess with Bowl
Me [22:27] : True. But I don't have a bowl as big as an entire fridge.
J[22:27] : get several bowls
Me [22:27] : Bob is totally creepin' on me right now and watching youtube over my shoulder.
Me [22:27] : *laugh*
J [22:28] : good timing
Me [22:30] : whyfor?
J [22:30] : you said laugh then Bob Laughed
J [22:30] : get with the program
Me [22:31] : Oh gee, I'm so sorry I was doing 5 things and missed the randomness. :P
J [22:31] : it's cool the Sour Ball got me distracted
Me [22:31] : *laughing* why??
J [22:31] : it's delicous
J [22:32] : I thought most men weren't cool with balls near their... oh.
Me [22:32] : Well cool then

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Very Victorian Sensibilities Shall Not Overcome!

I have done MANY many things outside my comfort zone thus far, though I did not specifically document them. I’ve taken every opportunity to review and decide it if would be a good growth area to push more on, or a decent and credible fear to have. It’s the pausing before acting and reflecting that is proving the most important part of this exercise.
I have:
~asked for help even though I was afraid it would make me look weak/stupid
~talked with people I did not know and found the public in general to be very pleasant to deal with
~worn a skirt (I am wary of baring my legs in public for some reason, though I look sorta cute in skirts)
~tried new foods I wasn’t sure I would like
~taken a different route on foot or by car to get somewhere even though it made me anxious, just to see what I could discover
~talked with people about things I normally shy away from out of fear I might offend someone (It turns out most people are a lot more easy going than I thought)
~talked openly about something I was passionate about, even though I was terrified someone might belittle me.
~committed to having a large social event at my house.
It is just a matter of constantly putting these things in to practice and pushing the envelope wider and wider until it’s not an envelope anymore. It’s an approximation of limits where it’s good to stop before your freedom to act makes others very uncomfortable.
I am really damned ready to stop being afraid of people. This is starting to feel like WIN to me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Actual Conversation 107 - where we explore deviousness brought on by yarn.

(Entire exchange done via cell phone textness)
Me: So I, uh I miht have purchased the Zombie Barbeque yarn from Lorna's Laces.
J: Drooooool
Me: Yeah, it'll be hard not to immediately cast on when it gets here.
J: Any plans for it?
Me: Socks. Purely Socks. I need more anyway.
J: Lol. You can never have too many.
Me: True. Mebbe should finish a few first, though.
J: I'm kind of in the same boat. Lol
Me: I don't know a single knitter that isn't. :)
J: I have 2 pair going. And, neither are for me.
Me: That is a damn shame. You should totally fix that ratio.
J: I know. But, I don't have enough needles!
Me: They sell them. In stores. I have seen it.
J: But, I could use that money for more yaaaaaarrrrnnnn!
Me: But it's a good return on investment. The yarn disappearsi n to another thing, but the needles always stay needles!
J: Snort. Now, don't get all logical on me. Lol
J: Gah! You are right!
J: On both counts. :)
Me: ^_^

Know Thyself

Introspection can be painful but pretty enlightening. It can not only help you learn useful things about yourself going forward, it helps you put a stop to things that haven't even happened yet. If you know how you're going to react under certain stressors, when those stressors hit you can fake right instead of left and finally experience a different outcome.
It also means facing up to your repeated patterns and stupid quirks and really, really annoying habits. It's not fun.
I'd like to think I am pretty self-aware in general, and in my more cocky and snide moments I'd like to think I'm more self aware than most of the populace. (Probably entirely untrue, I'm just aware of different parts of myself than they are.) For instance, I know that seeing anything to do with damage to eyeballs is going to freak me out. So is anything with rape, implied or happening right there in front of me. I loathe being told I'm an idiot or I don't know what I'm talking about. I ~will~ stop dead to hug a stuffed animal if it's big enough and soft enough, and it is an involuntary reflex to talk baby-talk to my cats when they stop by to collapse on my lap.
There's lots of other really tiny piddling stuff, but I'll spare you. You get the idea. When X is applied, Y results.
So I had been sitting here lately trying to figure a few things out, namely why on earth I keep not exercising when I have a lot of free time in the mornings suddenly. In the evenings I had felt like I was taking 30-45 minutes away from time with Bob, but I really liked walking outside in the dark while listening to my music. Here we are in a probably MUCH safer neighborhood and I am not walking during the day. Go downstairs on the treadmill, then? Nope, that's not happening either.
And in one of those little introspective moments that smacks me upside the head, I realized... I just have an aversion to daylight, not exercise. I WANT to exercise. Hell, I looked damn good when I managed to lose all that weight. I want to do it again, and then some more after that. I just seriously and truly hate doing it while the daystar hangs high in the sky for some reason. Probably because I just generally hate being observed, and part of me thinks some pervy neighbor might have binoculars to watch me trundle away on the exercise equipment. Not even pervy, the thought of ~anybody~ seeing me makes me nervous.
So I'm going to try something tonight since it was so successful the last time I did it - I'm going to saddle up the iPod, put on my beat up sneakers, and I'm going to do a once-'round the neighborhood to see how things go.
It'll be a chance to listen to music, 30-45 minutes of exercise, and a chance to wind down after work. I've been feeling like brain mash for the past 2 weeks since switching to 2nd shift, and it bothers me that I haven't yet developed a map of how to troubleshoot hardware stuff effectively now that we're encouraged to go the extra mile for folks in the evening. In the back of my head I'm wondering if the whole mind-body connection thing might not be the reason, since I've been very sedentary since moving with all the stress.)
Either way, we shall see, as I'm planning on strapping on the shoes and the 'pod tonight and giving it a go.
Yeah, sometimes these things start out seeming really serious and then I'm just talking about jogging.
In other news, the Sky Scarf is looking awesome even though we're only on day 5 of it! Wrangling all of those tiny little mohair strands is a pain, but thankfully I only have to do it once a day for about 5 minutes. Otherwise this project would never be completed.
And in the realm of furtherly knowing thyself, I am acknowledging that I'm going to forget a day here and there and I've already given myself permission to make up for it by doing as best as I can remember for those days. With as excited as I am about this project, this is me we're talking about here. I'm going to forget an entire week at some point after the novelty wears off, and I have a hard time carrying anything for more than a few months. It's just who I am. I'll set reminders and use up a billion post-its to help. The post-it industry LOVES me for that very reason.