Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ticking Off

"Ever unfolding, ever expanding, ever adventurous and torturous, but never done."

As I said, I've come up for air.

One by one, I'm crossing things off my imaginary list. I call it imaginary because it resides in my head. I know, that's not the most fail-safe, effective place for a list. What can I say? That is just how I do it, how I've always done it. Mostly well, occasionally badly.

Which reminds me, my inspection sticker expires this month and I need to have my tires rotated and balanced. Oy.

But on the ticked-off side, I arranged for my RMD for my inherited IRA, which will be automatic every year now, unless I decide to change it. I had my annual well-woman physical, but I still have to schedule a mammogram and a bone density scan. I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor too. New glasses! Oh boy!

I've sorted out some issues with my 401K and now I just have to pay the custodian's bill. And transfer some money that I collected as Houston Society of Glass Beadmakers Treasurer (just elected to a new term), and send the President the list of people who've paid their dues for 2015.

I've maxxed out the number of auctions I can run simultaneously on Facebook, and I'm momentarily caught up on invoicing and shipping, although that won't last long. After my two-week hiatus, I've been buried with Buy-it-Nows since I started listing again.

The Glassell Student Sale is over. As usual I sold some things but not nearly everything, so I did a fair amount of work for nothing, but that's life. Better yet, my 2D Design class is over and I completed the last three assignments.

Project 10 was called "Color Temperature Season Collage" and essentially was representing two consecutive seasons by painting 100 different shades of color for each. I almost enjoyed the painting part. I chose Winter (cool colors) and Spring (a mix of cool and warm colors) and did it assembly-line style. I used ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, and lemon yellow, plus black and white (and gray).

I started with a squirt of a color, and added it first to white, little by little, painting a swatch. When I reached the deepest shade, I started over with the same color, adding black, a toothpick-sized amount, and when things got very dark, I started adding white in again (i.e. gray). It was shockingly easy to come up with 200 shades.

Then because it was easier than cutting squares, I used a heart-shaped punch. I pretty much randomly glued the hearts in place and I'm not displeased with the outcome.

Project 11, called "Texture" was a piece of cake. We had to select 10 different types of texture and cut out 5 pairs of "actual" textured material and 5 pairs of "simulated" texture examples. I took photos for my simulated texture - clouds, flowers, greenery - and used craft box items for my real texture. It was down and dirty and I think I did OK, but I missed the class when that project was critiqued.

And our final assignment, Project 12, aka "Matisse Paper Cutouts" was making a construction paper collage based on a piece of music. Our instructions were to "create different shapes and select colors that depict the mood of the piece of music you have chosen." I chose "Incomplete" by Alanis Morissette, because it was the first song that popped into my mind, and I admit I just cut out shapes at random and went to town with glue.

The result arguably represents the song or it doesn't. Art of this sort being completely subjective, and my goal being simply to have something (anything) done by the day after we got home from Hawaii, I didn't try to knock my own socks off. In fact, after the fact, I considered choosing a different song that better matched the result. "La Bamba" spontaneously occurred to me, but I'm sure I could have thought of something better if I'd wanted to spare the brain cells.

So that is that. I'm looking forward to a break from art school after 8 semesters. I wouldn't mind taking Beginning Digital Photography II, maybe down the road a piece. Oh, that reminds me, I have a few things I bought for my class, and didn't use, to return to Texas Art Supply. (This virtual list thing can be pretty random.)

As far as my online Living Writers class, I'm barely a dozen or so pages into the fourth (last) book The Zone of Interest. After finishing Freedom, I went back and looked at the discussion board and was disappointed in the (lack of) depth and breadth of the postings. I'm not even sure how to tackle a discussion of the book, except to say, I wouldn't call it a "Great American Novel" (sorry Time Mag). I found the characters caricatured and the plot a fairy tale and the sex and other bodily functional stuff both unrealistic and gratuitous. So there. Take that.

Hmm, on reflection, all three books that I finished (including The Orchard of Lost Souls and Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood) had fairy tale (read improbable) endings, although the latter is more likely to be factual, since it is an autobiography.

I'm looking forward to re-prioritizing my life. I'd like to stick to making beads and walking on the treadmill for a while. And writing. I wrote 76 posts in 2013, and this is only my 34th post in 2014 and it's past mid-December. I'm not sure whether it's a threat or a promise to say I'm planning to post more often next year, or moot, because I'm pretty sure my audience is primarily me (which is truly fine - I write mostly for myself).

Last night, Neil sat down on the sofa and his hand encountered a hairball. He recoiled, got up, washed his hands and returned to the sofa.

I said, are you kidding? You went and washed your hands but you didn't bring a paper towel to clean it up?

Neil looked at me and said, I worked today.

He redeemed himself somewhat by getting a paper towel and cleaning up the hairball.

I thought about his comment today. Just because I enjoy what I do doesn't mean I don't work. I'm pretty disciplined actually. I spend about 3 hours most days making beads. I estimate I spend a good 5 more hours daily, dipping mandrels, cleaning beads, stringing sets, taking photos, editing photos, writing auction listings, monitoring auction listings, sending invoices, printing invoices, packaging beads for shipping, and making trips to the Post Office. Sometimes I'm still wrapping beads and printing shipping labels well after Neil's gone to bed.

True, I don't get a bimonthly paycheck, nor do I get paid vacation or discounts on health and life insurance, or matching contributions to a pension plan, or stock options, or bonuses, or other perks that come with a salaried job. I don't earn six figures, as I did before I "retired."

I am still working though. I'm paying my share of the household bills. I'm picking up milk for Neil. I cook, in a manner of speaking, maybe 4 nights a week, even if it is just eggs, or soup and sandwiches, or pasta, or frozen pizza. I do all the dishes too. I'm the one who takes out the trash and the recycling, I'm the one and only one who cleans the litter boxes. I make sure we have cat food in the house and I feed the cats their daily canned food meal. I clean up 99 percent of the hairballs - and until last night that would have been 100 percent.

So yes, I work.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to say that Neil doesn't make it possible for me to do what I love. He pays the mortgage and taxes on this beautiful house. We have health and life insurance through his company. He pays the lions share of our vacation costs and he almost always pays when we go out to eat.

I pay for homeowner's insurance, flood insurance, car insurance, business insurance and an umbrella policy that would cover any coins that are in the house and not in the safe deposit box. I pay for utilities - electricity, gas, water, home phone, cable, internet access, home security. I pay the every-other-week housekeeper.

Of course I pay for all my own clothes and shoes and indulgences, hair and nails, massages, any medical co-pays for myself, groceries at least half the time, some of our travel expenses. Naturally my business pays for all the glass and tools and supplies and equipment I use for bead making, and any beadmaking classes and conferences I attend.

I'm not a kept woman. I don't consider Neil's money to be "our" money (or mine to be "ours" either). It just makes sense, when we each have our own children, not to throw it all into one pot. All that may change after Neil retires. And it would be nice in many ways to consolidate it all, but you don't get a second chance to do it right the first time. Not to mention we both have control issues.

For now, the status quo is working well. For us. And it's all about us.

OK. Off to check the kiln. And clean some beads. And dip some mandrels. The circle of bead life goes on.

Some recent sets.

"One day, I'll find relief
I'll be arrived
And I'll be a friend to my friends who know how to be friends

One day, I'll be at peace
I'll be enlightened
And I'll be married with children and maybe adopt

One day, I will be healed
I will gather my wounds, forge the end of tragic comedy

One day, my mind will retreat
And I'll know God
And I'll be constantly one with her night, dusk and day

One day, I'll be secure
Like the women I see on their thirtieth anniversaries

Ever unfolding, ever expanding
Ever adventurous and torturous
But never done

One day, I will speak freely
I'll be less afraid
And measured outside of my poems and lyrics and art

One day, I will be faith filled
I'll be trusting and spacious, authentic and grounded and whole

I have been running so sweaty my whole life
Urgent for a finish line
And I have been missing the rapture this whole time
Of being forever incomplete."

(The brilliant Alanis Morissette)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz