2/52: Scraps

IMG_2217So… it’s not quite complete. I still need to add some journaling (it’s actually a two page spread about her middle name for the baby book). But I did something, and it felt good.

It’s been a tough week—nothing crazy, just a lot of rough edges. It helps that Iris is cute. It helps that Carl keeps up with a lot of the cleaning and dishes. It helps to have a Jane Kenyon omnibus on hand (fifty pages of which—FIFTY—I read while sitting under a paper sheet on an exam table at my doctor’s office on Monday. Boo).

Am still trying to find more focus for the year. It’s tempting in the middle of a Kenyon binge to stick with poetry for a while (funny how everything sounds like a great subject for a poem when you’re reading one of the effortless greats). The truth is that poetry’s not a particularly comfortable space for me. I like writing it, but I never really feel like I know what I’m doing. I don’t trust my sense of what’s good and what’s not; revision is always a nightmare. But it would be hard to do something consistently and attentively for months and not get better at it, right?

And how great to have a poetry collection for the year. A time capsule of poetry!

On the other hand…. agh.

And this is the evening Carl and I keep looking at each other and saying, “only one more day as a family of three!” Which is both lovely and terrifying. I will be 41 weeks tomorrow, and I’m scheduled to be induced on Thursday. Maybe the baby will be my art project this week.

I did sort of make him, right?

Invention

IMG_2187You have heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention, but I’m telling you: motherhood necessitates invention too. Her free Kroger balloon from yesterday had lost its floating powers today, so I taped it to the fan and turned the fan on its lowest setting.

Bam.

It whirled and twirled and was thrillingly bouncy. 20 minutes down… 7 hours and 40 minutes to go.

Today was not my finest day of parenting for sure, although Iris didn’t seem to mind the extra helping of cartoons or the fact that I dozed on the couch next to her through them. I told Carl last night that, my due date officially past, I reserve the right to hate everyone and everything from now until Thursday when my induction is scheduled. He asked me how that was different from a normal week, and I guess maybe I’m not quite as gone as I feared because I did actually laugh. Maybe because Carl is the one who will turn on America’s Got Talent or American Idol for 5 minutes and then ask absently, why do I hate everyone?

We have become grouchy, 30-something parents.

At least in the middle of a craptacular day, there are moments of deep bonding when the balloon REFUSES to be caught and in fact is almost taunting in its flight, and the toddler gives you a perfect WTH face.

My feeling exactly.

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Crisp

IMG_2139The mornings are getting chilly. Iris (and George) require bundling for our morning jaunt to the park, empty now that the 5-and-over set are back to school and the weather less inviting. I have to admit, I kind of love the peace. We check out the texture of tree bark and collect wood chips and look for ants. Iris loves ants.

IMG_2148 IMG_2155After watching dozens of apples drop from the tree in our neighbor’s backyard and rot on the ground, I finally stole four of the remaining ones—sweet/tart and dusky—and made apple crisp out of them. Nobody’s lived in that house since we moved in, although a lawn service comes by every week and dutifully clips the front yard. Also the crisp was delicious under a heavy dollop of vanilla bean ice cream. I’ll soothe my conscience later.

We are also exploring the world of autumn-inspired pancakes. Iris loves pancakes, so we make them about once a week. Last week we did apple cider pancakes, and this morning I made a batch of pumpkin ones.

I love this time of year.

IMG_2174Our colds linger on, and Carl and I take turns keeping each other awake at night with coughing, shifting, nose blowing of variable intensity. It is what it is, I guess, but it does make it a little easier to be patient while we wait on this baby. I have zero desire to bring a newborn into a germy house, even though I am so over the fits and starts of labor that have been getting my hopes up for weeks now. You know your baby is plenty big enough when you can literally feel the outline of his haunch—knee, thigh, tiny leg—bulging out when he turns.

Iris has been loving on my belly the entire pregnancy, but now that’s she’s figured out how much we melt over her kissing things, she’s started lunging face first at the belly too. It’s going to be interesting to see them together. Poor little man is going to get snowplowed; that’s my prediction.

Other than that, there’s not much to report. We aim for easy days and do our best to keep up with the dishes. And that’s about it.

I’ve been avoiding committing to any specific project this week since it’s zero week for the baby (in which case a newborn photo shoot or a few journal pages is about the extent of my ambition), but I’m going to keep working on the painting project downstairs and attempt a few scrapbook pages in the evening… so hopefully something gets finished by Saturday. Will report on the art front then.

Until then, hope your days are easy, your mornings crisp, and your monkeys well-behaved.

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Week 2: Supplies

IMG_2129You guys, I bought paint!! I seriously wasn’t sure I would/could do it, even though I’ve been thinking about this particular project for weeks now. We were mostly having a family sick day at home today (again. sigh), but I was feeling the need for some time to myself so Carl stayed home with Iris and I decided to wander around a craft store for an hour or so in the afternoon.

I walked through the entire store. I bought a few scrapbooking things because you don’t just walk by a 50% off sale without stocking up on flower embellishments, and then I took the acrylic plunge. I don’t think this is going to be my project for the week, because the project I’m envisioning is going to be kind of big and will probably take me a long time.

But I’m starting it.

And during my inaugural session this evening, I only did ONE thing that Carl informed me would have earned me an F in art school.

Kidding. I mean, he did tell me that, but he’s allowed. He also sat sociably on the floor in the basement with me the whole time I worked, talking about art and watching his grandpa paint when he was a kid, telling me a bunch of stuff about brushes and canvas that would save me a lot of time and frustration if I’d had to figure it out through trial and error.

Feels good to start something new.

 

Week 1: STATUS COMPLETE!

Carl’s 52/1: Untitled
Wk1My 52/1: Because the Prompt Said

 

Because the Prompt Said

 

Right this moment

I am watching the pattern of morning sun

light up the bureau top,

revealing dust & Saturday chores,

while my daughter

—18 months and sleepy,

hair heavy in her eyes—

watches cartoons on the bed beside me

her hand flung across the pillows,

nonchalant, to rub my 9 month belly.

 

Right this moment

apples are falling in our neighbor’s yard,

warm & sweet & rotten,

& raccoons carry the cores behind our house

during their nightly, moveable feasts.

We find the pieces scattered,

mingled with our trash,

forgotten when the coons stopped to drink

from our daughter’s pool,

tiny & plastic, aggressively pink.

 

Right this moment

I am 31 & 3 days,

& the year still looks fresh to me,

full of unopened October days, holidays,

dreams of steady harvest, journeys taken.

Yet I am also unmoored by motherhood,

free-floating, though the stars seem familiar.

Forever losing—& finding—myself in books;

friends; the love of a man

& the face of our child.

More at peace than I have been

but wary too. Ready to leave this place

between birth and birth.

Ready to be alone in my body,

returned to the full colorwheel of my thoughts,

the fierce tug of adventures

that require no passport.

 

This is what it means to be me,

to be a mother/person/writer

to be 31 & 3 days

& right this moment

writing a poem.

Week 1: Exploring Categories

IMG_1890Oh, gosh. Jenn stopped by on Tuesday for a multi-hour chatfest and, as if that wasn’t enough goodness for one day, also brought a cute jar of emergency mommy candy to soften the landing whenever the babe finally shows up. And I was doing GREAT at ignoring the stash for like a day. It’s sitting next to me as I type this during Iris’s nap—open, of course—and I keep making up new and random and ridiculous rules like: I will just eat the Starbursts on top, or: perhaps one more piece of chocolate; or: but really after this I’m done.

Vain hopes, but so comforting!

Also delicious.

And week #1 of the project is going well—despite a major case of the sniffles that Iris caught on Tuesday and passed handily to me on Wednesday. Boo. I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into a full week ordeal like last time. I lost 2 hours of sleep the first night with Iris’s many wakeups, and Carl lost 2-4 the next night, and then, magically enough, last night she slept 11 hours straight. So maybe there’s hope? Maybe? Besides a runny nose and headache, I don’t feel too awful.

Oh, except for the 8 pound baby who keeps stretching himself out as long as possible to push his head, already lodged in my pelvic cavity, into the tender bits of my cervix and bladder. That feels about as lovely as you’d imagine.

But creativity goes on and so does life. I roughed out a draft of the poem over the weekend and have been hoping for a chance to do at least a minor edit before posting. Carl started off with an easy project of his own, which he finished up last night. So it looks like I will be posting them both right on time this Saturday. Woot for first week enthusiasm!

I also started a new board on Pinterest to house my art inspiration for the coming year, project possibilities, the germ of an idea or the way the light throws in a snapshot. And then, because researching is half the fun of any endeavor, I spent a long time looking around online for different categories of art. It’s all well and good to decide to do 52 artistically interesting projects, but it does sort of beg the question of how you define art.

I have thought of myself as “a writer” since I was a preteen, but I’ve never had much affinity for the term “artist”—at least in reference to myself or anybody else I knew personally. It seemed sort of self-aggrandizing and wince-worthy. We were forever doing stuff, my sibs and I. Sculpting miniature busts out of plaster, making short, goofy films, writing novellas, and staging impromptu “scenes” (my brother Jon proposed to me several times in mundane, crowded public spaces just for the fun of seeing the incredulous—and at Taco Bell, pitying—looks of strangers).

Doing stuff was fun. If it hadn’t been, I’m 100% sure we wouldn’t have done it.

Being an artist who creates art… I still don’t know how I feel about that. I guess I’m still in it for the fun, maybe especially after getting my heart semi-broken (speaking of uncomfortable phrases; I can’t even help myself. The “semi” is reflexive) two years ago when the only really SERIOUS book I’ve ever attempted got me the coldest rejection letters I’ve ever received. I could (and did) feel shaken in my quest to be a Grown Up Writer of Artistic Merit, but maybe it served a valuable purpose in helping me reevaluate my standard of art and reconnect with the basic joy of is. If it’s not on some deep level FUN, then why do it?

The more I think about art, the less interested I’ve become in pursuing Serious Art. I have trouble making myself read Really Serious Novels anymore. I appreciate a good drama for sure, but I do not particularly appreciate the few Serious (aspiring) Actors I have ever met. Sometimes I think the people I know who have taken a good look at their lives, have come to terms with both the good and the bad of it and learned to craft their own happiness and create art in the details—those are the really successful artists of the world. Life itself can be art, you know? I don’t want to be too rigid in my definitions…

So I started a list of art categories—both to help me think outside the classic box of visual/literary/music and to consciously dignify some of the homier arts. This is what my list looks like today, but I’m still adding all the time so feel free to brainstorm in the comments.

Art Types/Categories

  • Calligraphy/typography
  • Collage/mixed media
  • Drawing (ink, pencil, chalk, crayon)
  • Mosaic
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Embroidery
  • Quilting
  • Other fiber arts (knit, crochet, etc)
  • Digital art/graphic design
  • Film (animation, stop motion, live action)
  • Literature/written word
  • Garden design/cultivation
  • Performance art (singing, spoken word, music, dance, theater)
  • Musical composition
  • Crafts
  • Edible/Culinary
  • Home decoration

The Latest, Greatest: Project 52

Well, I meant to end in a blaze of photographic genius, but that clearly didn’t happen. So, yes. The 365 Project is officially over, and I am now most definitely 31 years old.

(The birthday was great! Thanks!)

I also left the camera bag in our car, meaning it’s currently at work with Carl, because I thought I might be in labor the other night and threw our hospital bag and camera case into the car before calling it a night. And waking up contraction-free and strangely rested the next morning, but whatever. The point being that I have no photos of today to augment this introductory post, which is so far failing to introduce anything but will in fact rapidly be made to introduce this year’s project, the slightly less-ambitiously titled Project 52.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks casting around for a suitable project for the new year—something creative but do-able, engaging without being stressful. I couldn’t find anything that felt flexible enough to accommodate those weeks where I won’t be able to scratch together the time or ambition to spend more than a few minutes on it. So I made my own project:

This is the year of stand-alone art projects, a year of exploration into creative expression, the honing of small but specific skills, the opening of a broader artful eye.

Every week I’ll choose one project. It can be something as ambitious as a short film (I still don’t know how to shoot video with our camera, and I’ve never edited anything), as secretly useful as reupholstering chairs, or as familiar as working through some creative writing prompts. The only rules are that I have to do SOMETHING every week that gets my juices flowing. I’ve been reading lots of books lately about creativity and brain function, about happiness and art, but reading can only get you so far. I need to do some exploring of my own.

And luckily I have spent enough time rambling insistently to Carl in the evenings that he’s decided to join me and do a Project 52 of his own, a more focused one dedicated to honing two specific skills. He wants to spend half the year doing 5 second typography videos and half the year doing typography/photo pieces. (There are actual words for these things in the world of graphic design, and I WILL make an effort to learn them. But since I literally spent a chunk of time this morning looking for pants I was already wearing, I’m going to give myself a pass today. Preggo brain, yo).

Here are my specific goals:

1. To attempt one art project per week.

2. To share said project on the blog or if TOO crappily executed (but you know my shame level is low in this area) at least to write about and reflect on the experience.

I was going to pick a specific deadline day of the week, but I think that’s pushing it. My goal is to have a finished project by the end of the workweek, which for us is Saturday. But we’ll see. I’m sure there will be some weeks where I’m lucky to even get one post up on an inauspicious Tuesday, but there will be other weeks when I have time to write about other things, share cute snaps, or indulge in righteous indignation over some supposed misery of the world. You know. Life.

Anyway. This is my year of broad creative exploration, and if you have any interest in joining in—even just for a week or two—or you’re doing your own project this year and want some minor accounta(blog)ability, feel free to link up in the comments. I would love to see other people’s art projects or hear more about the creative journeys of people who are slightly less famous and intimidating than those I can pick up in the biography section of our library [EDITED TO ADD: wouldn’t it be cool if we really could go to the library and pick up life-sized mannequins of famous authors? Haven’t you ever wondered if the Brontes were properly fed?].

So let it be written, so let it be done.

My prompt this week: write a poem that speaks to your life as it is, right this moment.