Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A laughing matter

"The path of least resistance is catching up with me again today."

Happiness is a laughing matter.

I was thinking about how happy I am, how this is the happiest I've ever been, and I remembered that at the tail end of the '90s my friend Robin and I set up a forum on Delphi with that name. We were the only two members, because we never did anything with it, except to use it to chat if for some reason we couldn't use ICQ or AIM, in the days before MSN and Yahoo and every other instant relay chat platform.

Delphi Forums still is going strong but Happiness is long lost in cyberspace. I was able to recover my username and password for Delphi. My last login was in 2001, but only one of "My Forums" has had any new messages since then, Music Fandom, one I have no memory of ever joining. The other five are defunct or have been moved.

Happiness was meaningful to us, at least the name of the forum, because we both were a bit bipolar and determined to convince ourselves that happiness was a choice, one that we could make as easily as choosing to be sad or down. Of course it's a lot more complicated than that, as depression and sadness are not synonymous and you can't think your way out of a biochemical imbalance. But there is some truth to the fact that a persistent sense of humor will get you through some dark nights of the soul. And that laughing is medicine.

I'm feeling a bit at loose ends right now. Both of my classes are over as of last week. In addition, the shelter where I volunteer has cancelled volunteer shifts the past two weeks because, allegedly, the cats all are sick. I want to throw the bullshit flag on that one, but I'm taking a wait-and-see position. Maybe next week will be volunteer business as usual. Maybe not.

The additional free time has been nice in the aspect that I've had more time to make beads. I'm still selling quite a bit on Facebook, maybe not as many as I was, but still, enough that I need to keep replenishing my inventory. Anything that doesn't sell, I set aside for my next online trunk show, which just happens to overlap with a brick and mortar bead show I'm doing. I'm just crazy enough to think I can juggle both. I'll probably have to pillage my Etsy store inventory to have enough bead sets for the bead show.

You'd think with all that freed-up time, I'd have found more time for writing, especially here, but it hasn't quite worked that way. Beads in the morning, three miles on the treadmill in the afternoon, and a post office run, and woof, my day is gone. I haven't even done any bead soup blog hopping. None. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. Other than Lori, the host, and Deborah, my bead soup partner, I haven't looked at anyone's bead soup creation. I keep intending to at least visit the blogs of those who commented on my post, but I've lost enthusiasm for the whole thing, and even if there was to be a ninth annual hop next year, I wouldn't sign up.

The final four assignments for my Digital Photo class were the five senses (plus one), scale, monochrome and self portrait. I'll share a few of my personal best.

Touch and sound were easiest for me.

Sight and smell were just a little harder

Taste was hard. I had a beautiful shot of a fully dressed hot dog that I missed because I couldn't figure out the lighting or the focus, and my dinner was getting cold. So, yeah, taste was a fail.

We also were assigned to capture a sixth sense. Examples given were balance, equilibrium, sense of heat or cold, and physiological pain. This photo really better represents touch, but I called it balance. I love my teacher. No one could have been more encouraging, less critical.

For sense of scale, I offer these efforts.

I loved the monochromatic assignment.

And finally, in our last assignment, I got to play Vivian Maier (as if I hadn't been playing her all semester). Self-portraiture may just be my thing. The instructions were to submit both photos of ourselves as subject and object.



And by the way, that last photo is my feet in front of some of the packages of beads I sent out after my first online trunk show. Here's a better shot, taken from our second floor landing.

And now it's over, but I plan to keep taking photos. I'm locked in to 2D Design as my next course at Glassell in the fall, but my plan is to apply for a scholarship to take Intermediate Digital Photography in Spring '15.

Especially if Nathan, my teacher, is teaching it.

Still to come. A wrap-up of my Atom Bomb class and the story of the X-rated pig beads.

I know you can hardly wait.

"Broken sticks and broken stones
Will turn to dust just like our bones
It's words that hurt the most now isn't it
Are you sad inside, are you home alone
If I could just pick up the phone
Maybe you could see a better day
And you won't waste away
Under my watchful eye
Because I'm your hero and you're my weakness

I'm broken down, not good enough
The broken promises add up
To twice their weight in tears which I have caused
I'm afraid to sink, I'm afraid to swim
I'm sad to say I miss my friends
I know that I'm supposed to step away
But they need me to stay
And keep a watchful eye
On all my heroes and all their demons

But who's gonna break my fall
When the spinning starts
The colors bleed together and fade
Was it ever there at all
And have I lost my way
The path of least resistance
Is catching up with me again today
Again today."

(Brandi Carlile)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Call me Adrenaline Girl

"My fire won't quell and I'll be harm-free and distress-less. Trust me."

I am Adrenaline Girl.

Apparently I don't need sleep any more. Nor much food either. I'm running on adrenaline and caffeine.

OK, I exaggerate. I sleep at least four or five hours, if you add up all the time I'm not awake every night. And I almost always have cereal with almond milk, yogurt and fig bars, something or other for dinner, and some cookies. And I drink watered down fruit juice when I walk my three 20-minute miles on the treadmill. But it's adrenaline that's juicing my brain and keeping me sleepless.

Today is a special day or will be if you read this tomorrow. Did that make sense? Let's try again. May 10 is a special day. It's the Bead Soup Blog Party hosted by the indomitable Lori Anderson at Pretty Things. Should you choose, you may visit the blogs of all the particpants to see what lovely creations they have cooked up from their bead swap beads. (A linked list is at the end of Lori's post.)

My partner is Deborah Apodaca. I'm looking forward to seeing what she's done with the soup I sent her. As I type this, I have one completed necklace and I'm getting ready to finish another necklace, because frankly, I'm rubbish at making anything else, like bracelets or earrings. By the time I post this the second necklace will be done. We are having fun.

A quick look at my bead soup once more before the reveal photos.

For the first piece, I used both the fish focal and the silver clasp. I knew I wanted to make something asymmetrical. I learned that it is harder than you think to balance an asymmetrical piece, but I did it after much tweaking. I also wanted the necklace to be long, long enough to go over my head without having to undo the clasp.

I added 5 of my small lampwork spacers in peacock green, a variety of Czech glass beads and some sterling silver daisies. I love how it turned out and I so will wear it. I'm working with greens more lately too and getting a lot more comfy with the color.

Bathroom mirror selfies with my old Sony point-and-shoot. Guilty as charged.

For my second piece, I used the brown stone coin beads and the little shell beads. The resident geologist wasn't certain what stone the brown beads are, the most likely guess is chocolate jasper. I had a small focal with complementary colors and I added some peach colored rounds from my stash and used shiny pink copper findings and, for something different, a coordinating silk ribbon to finish it. It's a fun piece I think.

I thought I picked out a coordinating ribbon. Chocolate brown, I thought, but suddenly I see all these mauves and plums. Yet somehow it works. That's my story. It works because I say it works.

After months of contemplation, I still could not visualize a way to use the pretty green top-front-drilled disks. Into my stash they will go, and perhaps the light bulb will illuminate one day and I'll know the perfect way to use them.

All right then.

Adrenaline girl has suddenly become a small rage on Facebook, selling beads like a nut (for a change) on two pages, Lampwork Beads For Sale and Lampwork Bead Market. Please come and join us if you care to. You will have to send a request to join, but one of several thousand members will approve you in no time flat.

I'm not sure if this is bad or good, but as I've been selling my beads, my bead collection also has grown, and I've been thrilled and lucky to add beads from artists I've long admired, as well as new artists whose work I've just first seen. But while buying and selling is fun, there are other things that I find appealing about these sites. Here is a comment I posted.
What I'm enjoying here is the interaction. Etsy and eBay can be so impersonal. Here my customers suddenly have faces and personalities. Life as a lampwork artist can be isolating. I love being able to take a break, come here, look at the pretty beads and comment on them. And of course I love the comments I get. Comments make me feel as good as bids do. Well, almost.
At first I was letting it get me down when there were days my beads drew no attention. I'm not sure if I've actually put it into perspective, or if I'm just appeased because sales have improved for me. Here is another comment I posted.
As a seller and a buyer, I'm fascinated by what sells, what doesn't, what gets bid up, what doesn't. I've seen phenomenal beads go for a song, and I've seen some very ordinary beads go for big dollars. At first I was upset if my bead/s didn't sell, but now I've got it in perspective. They just weren't what someone was looking for that day. But it does warm my heart when someone comments BIN [Buy-it-Now].
Certainly, one of the postitive things to come out of this is a resurgence of motivation and creativity for me. So, now that my classes are finished for the semester, my circle of life will be more bead making, followed by the bead cleaning and sorting and stringing and photographing and listing and wrapping and shipping.

And it's back to British Crime Drama on the treadmill, beginning with the series Vera. I'm not quite done with Morse yet, but I'll work the last shows in somewhere. And now that DCI Banks is back with Series 3, I want to re-watch Series 1 and 2 with Neil. Just have to figure out how to pull up Idaho Public Television on our "smart" TV. (If only we were half as smart about learning how to use it.)

I want to do a wrap up on both my classes and there are a couple of good stories ahead, including the X-rated pig beads, and how I managed to run not one but two stop signs in front of Sugar Land's finest hard-ass copper.

But first I need to do some blog hopping.

"Deadlines and meetings and contracts all breached
D-days and structure

Have-tos and need-tos and get-tos by three
Eleventh hours and upset employees

I want to be naked, running through the streets
I want to invite this so-called chaos that you'd think I dare not be
I want to be weightless, flying through the air
I want to drop all these limitations at the shoes upon my feet

Heartburn and headaches and soon-to-be ulcers
Compulsive yearnings non-stop to please others

All won't be lost if I'm governed by my own innateness
Stoplights won't work, I'll get home sound and safe regardless
Won't be mayhem if I'm ruled by my own rulelessness
My fire won't quell and I'll be harm-free and distress-less
Trust me

Line towing and helping, expectations up to living
Inside box, obeying, inside line, coloring

I want to be naked, running through the streets
I want to invite this so called chaos that you'd think I dare not be
I want to be weightless, flying through the air
I want to drop all these limitations and return to what I was born to be."

(Alanis Morissette)