Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A mixed bag of guilt

"You always say you know me, somehow I don't think you do."

Back in the day, and I mean way, way back in the day, I was a runner. Yes, in my twenties after avoiding aerobic exercise throughout high school and college, I started jogging. I couldn't run 50 yards at first, but I built up stamina quickly and pretty soon I was running four 10-minute miles four times a week. I did this for two and a half years, until both of my knees were screaming "mercy."

After that I launched into Jazzercise and later low-impact aerobics, with bouts of Hatha Yoga, Pilates, Nia and Tai Chi. Followed by a long period of couch potato ennui, where I counted parking at the far end of the parking lot and taking 3 flights of stairs as my exercise program.

This post isn't about exercise, even though I'm proud to say that I started walking a couple of miles daily this year and for the last two months I've been walking on the treadmill at the community fitness center for at least an hour at least four times a week, sometimes more.

No, this post is about guilt. The guilt I felt in my running days if I couldn't (or didn't) run. I don't consider myself prone to addictions, but having taken up an exercise regime, I was slightly obsessive about it. I never got a runner's high but I did get a profound sense of relief from having completed a run. Conversely I suffered discomfort when I couldn't run and shame if I skipped it. I remember running in my hometown of Forest Hills, New York, on concrete sidewalks when the temperature was so cold that I had to breathe through a bandana.

I've been diligent about walking on the treadmill every day that I can, but I don't find myself stressing if I miss a few days. I even allow myself weekends off and if I'm on a trip out of town, that's OK too. I enjoy my walks because I watch old British mysteries on instant video on my iPad while I walk. I'd never give myself permission to watch movies or TV shows during the day otherwise.

What is causing me guilt at the moment is missing a beadmaking day. At this time of year, I work in the mornings, starting before 9 a.m. and quitting about noon when it gets too damn hot in my west-facing garage studio. I don't make beads when Neil is off, which is one day per week or two, and I don't make beads on weekends if I have other things to do. But I guard my bead time relentlessly on weekdays.

The thing is, it's a mixed bag, this guilt. I have trays full of beads and I make them faster than I sell them. So I'm confused about where this drive to constantly make more comes from. Momentum has something to do with it. The idea that I'll only improve my skills by practice, practice and more practice plays in. The knowledge of just how much glass I have in my stash to be made into beads bears weight. Having discipline to work through creative slumps is important to me, and much of the recent past has been a challenge creatively.

It's 91 degrees right now, on its way to 97 degrees, which isn't terrible but isn't great either. It's also past noon, so no beads today. I'll clean the ones from yesterday, maybe take pictures and draft listings for my online shop.

I didn't plan to skip today, but I knew it was a possibility. I went (fasting) to have my blood drawn this morning, because I want to know my cholesterol numbers before I renew an expensive prescription for Lovaza. What should have been quick and easy was a four-stick ordeal. I asked the phlebotomist to use a butterfly, a tiny needle used on babies, because yes, my veins are that small. She said she was using a small needle and stuck me on the back of my forearm after evaluating both of my inner elbows. She got a partial tube, the first of three tubes, before she gave up.

For sticks two and three she did use a butterfly, one in my inner left elbow and one on the inside of my left forearm, and got squat. I'm not a baby, I have a reasonably high tolerance for pain, and no squeamishness about needles, but the third futile stick caused me to shed a tear. It's not like I ever breeze through having blood drawn, but four sticks is a record. At this point the phlebotomist called in another phlebotomist. She hit my vein with the butterfly but my blood dripped rather than flowed, so filling three more tubes was tedious (and hopefully we got enough blood for all my routine tests to be done).

I had to pick up milk for Neil, along with our other staples, cat sand and cat food. I made a quick stop at Ulta to spend my coupon on some tea tree face wash, and then picked up what I needed at Kroger and came home. Put the milk away and had some breakfast and by then it was 11 a.m. and I decided not to make beads today. Reasonable but guilt-inducing all the same. Especially since tomorrow I have an early doctor's appointment and while I hope they are super-efficient (I printed the new patient forms from the website so I can just hand them in when I arrive), there's a fair chance that if I'm not home by 10 a.m. I'll blow off beads again.

But bloody hell, I've been talking about taking a break from lampworking. Maybe for just a week, certainly for no more than a month, but trying a break as a way out of the repetitious rut I've fallen victim to. Nose-to-the-grindstone purposefulness has neither bred creativity nor more versed results. Maybe a breather would be an alternate approach worth trying. What am I afraid of? What have I got to lose? And yet, I feel the obdurate draw of the torch. Siren or muse, I can't tell right now.

I make beads, therefore I am.

I'm getting closer on the new frit blends too. I had to order more pinks, seven more pinks to be precise, to finish tweaking Heirloom Roses. I also ordered one more purple to complete Kalahari. And Beachcomber is done, I just have to make more example beads and write up the listing. I'll have the latter two for sale on August 1.

Here's a quick peek.

I'm also in an exchange called Sisterhood of the Traveling Bead. In a nutshell here are the rules.
I receive a box with beads, glass and beadmaking supplies.
The beads are mine to keep.
All the things in the box do not have to be used.
I make beads with ONLY what is in the box and send them, along with a new box of glass and supplies, to the next person on the list.
The next person on the list keeps the bead I made.
They make beads with ONLY what is in the box and send them, along with a new box of glass and supplies, to the next person on the list.
I've got the box right now, and here what was in it.

I have a couple of weeks to work on my beads made with the box contents. But in typical Liz form, I'll get them done sooner rather than later. Lots to work with here, including a couple of rods of silver glass, silver foil and shards, and those beautiful eye cane that I will slice into murrini. Fun times.

So here's the plan for tomorrow. An early morning appointment. Torch time. Massage at 2 p.m. because my masseuse is taking the month of August off - the whole month! Had to get in one more before she goes. Treadmill time, the usual, 4 miles and an episode of Inspector Lewis (I'm watching Season 2 now.) Dinner.

And then Neil is off on Friday, and on Saturday I have a trunk show, first one of the year, at Spring Beads. Which reminds me, I need to get my show trays in order and take stock of my show supplies.

And buy chocolate.

"You know I hate it when you stick your hand inside my head
And switch all my priorities around
Why don't you go pick on someone your own size instead?
Go on without me, I'll just slow you down

You always say you know me somehow I don't think you do
Maybe you should buy another vowel
You're jumping to conclusions so I can't keep up with you
Go on without me, I'll just slow you down

I'll just hold you up
When I fall behind
I'll just throw your schedule off
So you get going if you're so inclined

You know I hate it when you put your hand inside my head
And switch all my priorities around
You think you're pretty tricky but you're simply overbred
Go on without me, I'll just slow you down."

[Warren Zevon, I'll Slow You Down, from Life'll Kill You. He was a Genius.]

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