Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Coffee Isn't Helping

One Ring once told me of a classmate of hers at Furman University who had the habit of walking around campus saying, "Oh, wretched day!" while drinking whiskey out of a McDonald's Ice Tea cup. Yes, someone out there really says, "Oh, wretched day!"

For some reason, that story has stuck with me, and there have been mornings where I've walked into the kitchen for breakfast and repeated that line, often receiving a chuckle from One Ring in response. Usually - 90% of the time, I'd guess - it's been a joke, a way of melodramatically expressing my irritation at an upcoming event. But sometimes I feel as if that silly statement is oh, so true, and so accurate.

Yesterday was one of those days. Today isn't looking so hot, either. Two cups of coffee and I'm still not up and running ...

I'm not saying that there were plenty of times when I was doing cartwheels because of my work. The job has its rewarding moments, to be certain, but let's face it - it's called work for a reason. Work is work. It's not play; it's not fun and games. No matter how much I wish otherwise, it will never be one of those jobs that the rare person has; the one they enjoy so much that they exclaim, "I can't believe I'm getting paid for this!" I've dreamed of getting a job like that, as has every other human being, but so far, no joy.

So, what’s going on? My favorite holiday is 11 days away, so I should be as excited as a child on Christmas morning. And yet, I told One Ring last night – as we went to the craft store to purchase yet another batch of clay for my craft class and saw the picked over shelves of Halloween decorations and craft projects - that I felt like I had already missed it. For some reason, the build up and anticipation of all kinds of scary movie watching, pumpkin carving, and house decorating has turned into an emotional “Meh. Whatever.”

Not good.

Usually when I have a client who is suffering from dystthymea – which is nothing but a fancy schmancy word for chronic mild depression – I ask what’s changed in their lives. Usually a core issue can be detected after a short time digging around the conscious or sub-conscious. At least with my patient body, that seems to be the case. So I’ve been turning my eye inward in an attempt to see what is going on. And aside from some recent setbacks in my guitar lessons, some mild frustrations at work and in my clay class (I’ve only been able to teach twice since I started due to lack of interested parties.), the only major event in my life is the pending birth of my son. Which I guess is reason enough to be freaking out and riding an emotional roller coaster, but during those moments where I’m mourning the loss of independence and spontaneity, I feel as if I shouldn’t be having those feelings. And, as we all know, feelings suppressed become feelings expressed in other ways – usually emotional outbursts, resentments, or a depressive withdrawal from participation and interaction with others.

In other words, we have a winner. Despite looking forward to Simon’s birth (My selection of “H.R. Puffinstuff” for his name was soundly rejected.), I’m also resenting the changes and chaos he’s bringing in his wake. And it is this, of course, which makes me feel lousy. I imagine lots of fathers feel this way, and that it is this which leads to absenteeism on the daddy-side. I’m not going to do that (Death, first!), having experienced that first hand twice – first with actual absenteeism and abuse, the second time with emotional absenteeism. But still, the mixed emotions are there.

So there you go. That’s why I haven’t been posting. That’s why I’m having sleep issues. That’s why my productivity at work is at an all time low, and that’s why I’ve occasionally joked with One Ring that I’m going to nickname Simon “Buzz-Kill.” She laughed, so I guess I’ll live until she gets tired of that joke!
Okay, time to go back and pretend to work.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Need Time with My Creative Outlets

Please note that the following has absolutely nothing to do with pirates, except perhaps on a (very) peripheral level. Nope, once again I am talking about my need for creative expression, the occasional change, and something really awesome that I experienced this past weekend in Lousiville, KY. Yes, that's right. I said Kentucky.

I will always be the first one to admit that I look down upon land locked states. I think having the good fortune - though I didn't realize it at the time - to grow up on the coast of Virginia, mere minutes from both the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, has seriously jaded my view that life is possible anywhere else. It is, of course, but why would anyone want to do it? As One Ring and I unpacked in the B&B we had booked for the weekend, I noticed instructions hanging on the wall. Instructions, I might add, for what to do in case the tornado alarm sounded. My comment to One Ring, if I recall correctly, was something to the effect of, "Why would anyone live in a place where tornados can pop up without warning?"

By the way, going to Louisville was her idea. Not that I complained. I was happy to get away, and, as it turned out, the city redeemed itself in my eyes with a show of cultural and artistic expression that is seriously lacking in many places I've called home (I'm talking to you Chelyabinsk!). I just found this website about that Russian city, and now I have even more reason to worry!

So, here's what I'm talking about in terms of needing some more time being creative:

Lately, my clay work and guitar playing has been limited. Some of this has been caused by other commitments, a bit by wanting to spend more time with One Ring (I used to practice when her brother came over), and mostly by my being exhausted when I get home from work and getting hooked on City of Heroes. So, even though I'm happy with my first attempt at a clay pumpkin (see previous post), I haven't been able to make any more. Bead making is not happening, and two of my clay classes were cancelled due to lack of interest. So there you go. There's also a minor issue with my dog going crazy when light hits my tools and reflects onto the ceilings and walls, but I won't go into that.

What made this trip to Louisville so awesome was that I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream. When I was a child, my family went to Jamestown, VA to see the first permanent colonial settlement. There we were able to watch craftspeople blow glass and create wine glasses, decanters, plats, cups, and so on. I actually took One Ring there while we were dating (or soon after we were married - sorry, dear, I can't remember!) and bought a couple of wine glasses. By then I was hooked. I wanted to try my hand at blowing glass.

One Ring knew of my dream, although I don't think I mentioned it for years. She set up a glass blowing class for me at Glassworks, in Louisville's museum district. To say I enjoyed my brief time there would be an absolute understatement. Although I didn't do too much of the blowing process (a modest couple of puffs down a long pole was pretty much the extent of my labor) due to the liability of having noobs stumbling around a 2200 degree furnace, I was still thrilled at being able to participate in the process. As the website shows, my project was creating a pumpkin. I wanted to do one with purple specs on an orange background. For reasons unknown to me, it turned out exactly opposite. But I love the finished project anyway!

I can easily see how people can become addicted to this. The woman who took my money (twice - I bought a t-shirt the next day when we returned to get the pumpkin) said that they get return customers all the time.

This experience brought to mind just how much I enjoy the creative process, evein if I'm only watching works of art coming into existence. It also made me aware of how lax I have become in working on my own projects. Essentially, I've allowed myself to become a lump, surfing the web during boring moments at work (like now), and doing next to nothing when I return home. But with my favorite time of the year now in place, and all sorts of ideas roaring about between my ears, the main message is that I need to shift into overdrive and get some stuff done! So, clay tonight while One Ring is at a meeting. Then guitar practice, since I'm having a guitar built by my instructor. It would be seriously lame if I pour all kinds of money into the guitar, only to find that I can't play well because I haven't done anything with the one I already own!

So the motivation is in place. Now I just need to translate it into action!

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