Saturday, August 29, 2015

Just don't do it

"If forgiveness is understanding
Then I offer mea culpa for the millionth time
From this tumbling house of cards of mine."

It's possible that I'm not only a stockpiler and to some degree a hoarder, but that I'm a full-fledged addict as well.

For a few weeks I'd put a leash on bead buying. Maybe I had overdosed because I really didn't feel the urge to buy. I have so many tiny works of art in my bead collection and while I treasure most of them, I honestly felt like I didn't want any more.

Not buying any beads felt good, actually. Some of my own beads were selling and I liked seeing my bank balance increase. Then I had a little slip. The first thing in my Facebook feed one morning was a set by an Isreali artist I admire, and it was a buy-it-now.

I didn't jump on it though. I actually went and looked at the set of her beads that I already own, to convince myself that I didn't need more. Seeing the beauty of the set (still in the box it arrived in), I went back to check on the listing, half hoping it was sold. It wasn't, and by god, the next thing I found myself doing was typing BIN please.

And having broken the ice, I stalked her trunk show for the next two days and snagged another BIN.

These are te beads. The artist is Michal Silberberg.

And since I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, I did a BIN on a focal by an artist in Germany. This is the bead, front and back. The artist is Angelika Kaufman.

I quit there. I paid the invoices and got back on the wagon.

But what has my addiction radar pinging is glass. I've bought glass several times recently. When I buy glass, I buy a lot of glass. A pound of this and a pound of that. I do look for sales and discounts and bargains, but the bottom line is, I don't need all the glass I'm buying. I seriously doubt I will ever use most of it.

Even if I stopped buying glass, I think I could make beads for the rest of my beadmaking days, even if those last another 20 years. And I don't know any 80 year old beadmakers. The oldest beadmaker I ever knew was 78 and he died. He was still making beads, so who knows, he might have kept going if he hadn't keeled over.

One way I know I have a problem is when I lose track of what I have and buy more of it. I got a box of glass today that included 10 oz. each of white and black. Granted I didn't pay much for it, $4 per color, but that isn't the point. When I was putting it away, I noticed that I had at least a lb. of each that I'd completely forgotten I had stashed away.

On top of that, I ordered more glass today, and because I was trying to reach a minimum amount to get a price break, I added another lb. of black. I have been going through a lot of black and white, especially right now since Halloween colors have been selling well. And black and white are problematic colors. I use one brand of cheaper black for bead bases and a more expensive brand of black for the stringer I use to decorate my beads.

The black I bought today is a brand I haven't worked with and I'm hoping it plays nicely, unlike the cheaper base black I'm using that spits at me every time I introduce it to the flame. I have a burn on my face where a hot piece flew up and hit me next to my nose and stuck. Brushing off a hot glass shard can make things worse, I tried to flick it off but I missed.

The real reason I placed this order today was that I wanted more of one limited production color and this was the only place in North America that still had any in stock. Never mind that I have at least 2 lbs. of it already and that I can use it sparingly and get a lot of mileage out of it. That lb. of glass cost $50 and because I was shipping it from Canada and because there was a discount with a 5 lb. minimum and $15 shipping if the order was $150 after the discount, I just had to make it worthwhile.

Then I thought, the exchange rate is good, about 75 cents on the dollar, so the prices are really not bad, but when I got the invoice, I found out that I had to pay in Canadian dollars, which I still think is strange. But it's paid now, and the glass will come in the post.

I really hope I am done now. I have boatloads of colors, including lbs.and lbs. of colors that I doubt I will ever use, colors like dark aqua, which is pretty but fussy to work with and I just don't have that many ideas of what to do with that particular color, especially when light aqua is so much prettier. The 14 oz. of dark aqua that arrived today were part of a package deal that included free shipping and some more appealing colors.

It's a sickness. And there really is no Glass Anonymous. It's not alcohol or drugs or food and while globally I probably have some sort of peer group, most of the beadmakers I know are happy with a 1/4 lb. of this and 1/4 lb. of that and a total glass stash of less than 20 lbs., possibly less than 10 lbs.

One of our fall projects is to do an inventory of my glass. Neil said he'd help me, he is a whiz with Excel, and I'm hoping when the weather gets nice, sometime around October, we can spend a few hours (or days) in the garage, with a scale and a laptop. I can read out the color names and weights, he can record them. If we get ambitious we can even include price estimates, but I'll probably sit down later and add those once we have the colors and amounts logged.

It's a little scary to think about because right now I'm not sure if I have 200 lbs. or 500 lbs. or 1,000 lbs.

I rationalize. I'm not putting the glass on credit cards and paying the minimum balance. I'm not even dipping into savings. Truthfully this year I've bought less glass than in any previous year since I started lampworking. Arguably buying glass is a good thing because I can write off the cost against my income on my tax return.

Realistically, all that is smoke and mirrors. The bottom line is that I have an excessive amount of glass, I don't need more, I don't even want more when I think about it sanely, but I keep buying more. I won't go as far as to say that I'm powerless against my addiction, nor can I imagine that turning it over to a higher power that I barely believe in would help stop me. I just have to stop. I have will power. I need to draw on that.

I also know that I've been to this point before. I've drawn the line in the sand before. I've said no more and I'm done. Then some glass manufacturer comes out with new colors and I'm hosed.

If I was making stellar beads right now, I might not even be having this conversation with myself. But I'm not. I'm cranking out a lot of bead pairs and sets which are selling, but I'm not creating art. Most days I make about 30 simple set beads and 5 focals. The focals aren't knocking my socks off. Well, that's not strictly true. I think some of them are really lovely, but those aren't the ones that are selling.

And as you already know about me, if my beads aren't selling it's because they are unworthy. If my beads are unappreciated, then they aren't art. It's all about the validation baby.

I'm tired. I haven't been sleeping and I don't know why. I have periodic bouts of insomnia that last anywhere from days to months. I've been having a lot of muddled dreams. steady diet of Harry Potter and Netflix crime drama may be partly to blame, but this has come and gone for years now without a clear cause and effect.

For a while I was waking up in the wee hours and looking forward to morning, eager for that cup of coffee, jonesing to get to the torch. I still like going out to torch. It's my job and melting glass still intrigues and absorbs me and I like doing it but it's less urgent than it used to be.

The same goes for my workouts. I looked forward to getting on the treadmill and watching the next installment of whatever series I was watching. Now I don't mind getting on the treadmill, it's just what I do, but I catch myself watching the time too, looking forward to being done and taking a hot bath. I've never in my life had a runner's high or an endorphin rush. I used to think the best benefit of a workout was the guilt relief, getting something irritating-but-good-for-you out of the way. Now I wonder if it is more like scratching the itch of another addiction.

Clearly I need an intervention and since there's no one else to do it, I'll just have to do it myself.

So, Liz, you need to get a grip, get a handle on your bead and glass buying. You need to look at the underlying reasons for your buying these things. Are you unhappy, are you trying to fill some need in your life that you should be getting met some other other way? Is it to supply something that is missing and is there a healthier, more sensible way to fill that hole, whatever it is. If you can't figure it out alone, you should talk to a professional. If you can't stop buying beads and glass and still feel good and happy, then you really must speak to a professional.

Will you promise Liz?

The line is drawn in the sand again. A fresh gauntlet is thrown down.

Are you up to the challege Liz? Can you do this? You can do this, of course you can.

I've put it out to the universe now. Hold me accountable universe. Hold me accountable.

And I promise to let you know how it goes.

Here are some of the beads I've been making. The very popular Halloween colors.

The beads I think are truly art - but aren't selling well at all.

More beads that I love - but apparently others, not so much.

And a bit of everything else.

I could go on and on. And on. But I won't. You get the idea.

Just when I thought I had handles on this
I could soften my guard behind false confidence

Just when I found humble pie insipid
Exempt from this blind side and firmly in its grip

'Cause I'm seduced by reaction
And under the influence
I'm slipping again
I'm up to my tricks, off my wagon
I have no defense, I'm wreaking havoc
Wreaking havoc and consequence

I get reduced by my own willfulness
As I reach for my usual god replacements

'Cause I am rich with sanction
And lax in my steps
I'm slipping again
I'm up to my tricks, off my wagon
I have no defense, I'm wreaking havoc
Wreaking havoc and consequence

If forgiveness is understanding
The I offer mea culpa for the millionth time
From this tumbling house of cards of mine

I am beaten by my impulsiveness
By this uncanny foreshadowing of regret

'Cause I'm repulsed by restriction
At least that's my excuse
I'm slipping again
I'm up to my tricks, off my wagon
I have no defense, I'm wreaking havoc
Wreaking havoc and consequence

(Alanis Morissette, Guy Sigsworth)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dial 1-900-Redemption

"Now I don't even want to build on the layers
There's no need to complicate asimple thing."

It's a rainy afternoon and I have a rare gift of unscheduled time because we just got back last night from 5 days in the Poconos, so I have no auctions ending or invoices to send or beads to ship.

Before we left, I cleaned beads, strung sets together and took photos, so I was ready to go this morning. I posted 9 brand new listings that will run until tomorrow, so tomorrow I will be fully back in my work routine.

Today I'm just half back. I made beads this morning, but I stuck to basics mostly, giving my muscle memory a chance to ease back into gear. I had some trouble keeping my pair sizes consistent, but I'm hoping they're close enough to go up on the block.

Before we left for the trip, I finished Season 4 of The Killing on Netflix. I enjoyed the series very much and had to resist the desire to binge watch it. I love it when I look forward to my hour on the treadmill so I can see another episode. I love it when I'm so absorbed, the hour passes without me even looking at the clock. I love it when I'm enjoying a show so much I don't want the episode to be over.

The ending of the series completely slayed me. The Killing, produced by Fox Television Studios and Fuse Entertainment, started out on AMC for two seasons. It was cancelled but picked up for a third season after Fox Television Studios partnered with Netflix to produce it. AMC cancelled it again after Season 3, but Netflix revived it for a fourth and final half season. Being commercial free, the Season 4 episodes were longer so it was more like 3/4 of a season.

I'm not sure why, but I absolutely fell in love with the ending epilogue. I knew what was coming because I ignored the spoiler alerts when I was reading about the series. I suppose I should insert a spoiler alert here now, because (eventually) I'm going to talk about the epilogue.

Spoiler Alert. There, done.

For my thoughts to make any sense, I'll recap the storylines. Seasons 1 and 2 follow the investigation of the death of teenager Rosie Larsen. Sarah Linden picks up the case on her last day of work for the Seattle PD. She's moving to California, getting married, ready to leave the trauma of homicide detecting behind her. At least that was the plan. Instead she partners up with her replacement, Stephen Holder, a former narcotics cop and recovering meth addict.

Linden is haunted by one of her prior cases, one which left her suffering a mental breakdown in part because she was never fully convinced the convicted killer was the guilty party. When she is assigned to the Larson case, she finds that she can't just walk away. Maybe that's because she feels that getting this one right will redeem her from ignoring her instincts on the case that sent her to the psychiatric ward.

Each episode of the first season represents one day of the murder investigation, and the viewing audience and critics were not amused when Season 1 left the case unresolved. With many sub-plots and red herrings, it takes the entire Season 2 to bring the culprit to light (and to suicide by cop).

Of course, it didn't bother me, since I didn't have to wait over a summer hiatus, nor did I have to wait a week or two between episodes. All the story lines held my interest, but what was most compelling was the acting by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman. Both of the characters, and the interactions between them, fascinated me.

Although in hypothetical real time, the case lasts all of 26 days, Linden's fiance (who it turns out was her doctor in the psych ward) quickly becomes so frustrated that she can't or won't walk away from the case that he walks away from her. And when the case ends, and the call comes in that there is a new case, Sarah walks away from the SPD.

Season 3 may be my favorite season, although it takes all the stories from all the seasons to make it so. Holder gets a new case that has some parallels to the original case that sent Linden over the edge. At the same time, the convicted killer in that case has his execution date set. Linden returns to detective duty on a temporary basis, to work with Holder on the investigation of the serial murders of underage street kids. At the same time she is revisiting the original case, looking for the common thread and for evidence that one and the same person is guilty in both cases.

Time runs out, the prisoner goes to the gallows. He says it himself, he is not a good person, whether guilty of the particular crime he dies for or not. I need to mention that in the meantime Linden has renewed a romantic relationship with her boss, the man who was her partner in the original case, yep, the person who convinced her, against her better judgment, that they were hanging the right man.

Another spoiler alert. OK.

In the last episode of Season 3, Linden deduces that her lover -former-partner-boss has been killing young girls, is indeed the serial murderer, and also is the perp who committed the original crime. Season 3 ends with Linden executing him (after he goads her beyond endurance) with her service weapon while Holder says no, no, no.

It would have been a crime to leave us hanging there.

Season 4 picks up the story without a pause. Linden and Holder have chosen to cover up Linden's vigilante justice. The boss and his car have been rolled into the lake, where 10 of his victims also happen to lie. Linden and Holder take on a new case, the murder of the family of a military school cadet, but the real story of Season 4 is how Linden and Holder begin to lose the plot. Turn about, they fall apart and shore each other up, only to fall apart again. Evidence and suspicion mount. Linden cracks in the end. They solve the family murder, but Linden becomes convinced that Holder is going to betray her. She turns herself in.

But the machine does not want to hear her confession. I mean, how would it look if the public learned that a high ranking police detective was a maniacal serial killer. So Linden walks, leaving behind her smokes and her badge. And Holder.

And now I can talk about the epilogue. It is five years later. Holder has a darling little girl and a job as a narcotics counelor. He walks outside during a break and there is Linden.

I have literally watched this scene a half dozen times, maybe more. I've practically memorized the dialog. They make small talk, then Holder asks Linden why she's there, really. It's clear that what she wants to say is hard for her, she is taking a huge risk.
I never had a real house to grow up in, you know, a home. I never belonged anywhere and all my life I was looking for that ... thing. You know, thinking that it was out there somewhere and all I had to do was find it. But I think, maybe, that home was us. It was you and me together in that stupid car, riding around and smoking cigarettes. I think that was everything.
And then she says what I think she really has come to say, although why it took her five years I'm not sure.
I’m sorry. I should have known that you were the one person who always stays. You were my best friend.
And for Holder, it is simple.
Why don’t you stay? Stay.
Lindn's not quite prepared for it though. She demurs.
I think that this city is the city of the dead for me.
Holder tries again.
That's a matter of perception, isn't it? Close your eyes. Maybe you will see what’s really there. Standing right in front of you. It ain’t ghosts, Linden. It ain’t the dead.

But she isn't there yet. So they embrace and say goodbye. Linden drives around the city, to a soundtrack of Peace of Mind by The Jezebels. In her eyes you see her struggle between fear and hope.

Hope wins.

There is no more dialog. Holder locks up shop for the day. Linden is waiting in her car. She gets out, Holden approaches her, she smiles, first tentatively, then more confidently, and the scene fades to black.

And I cry.

I've watched a lot of shows, crime drama especially, a steady diet over the past few years. There's often a love interest, a romantic pairing. This was different somehow. A lot of viewers and critics found the ending contrived, unrealistic, out of character for the characters and just bad writing. There was little suggestion of attraction between Linden and Holder during the series. There is one scene where Holder leans in but Linden hastily pulls away. But I wouldn't say there was no chemistry.

What I would say is that these were two characters with boatloads of baggage apiece (Linden raised in foster care, Holder by his sister). And while five years is a long time for Linden to have been on the road figuring out where home was, both had a lot of healing still to do. Linden had to come to terms with the horrific discovery that her once and again lover was a very sick killer of many, many young girls, and that, wrongly or rightly, she killed him for it. Holder had a meth relapse, a pregnant girlfriend and a profound concern about fucking up fatherhood to overcome. None of that happens overnight.

As I've said before, I love stories of redemption. I want to believe that Linden and Holder could make some sort of future together, as friends or as lovers, and that they will be fine, that there are better days ahead. I need to believe that.

It's time to put this one to bed though. I've already watched the entire Season 1 of Broadchurch, with Season 2 cued up to start tomorrow. I need to let go of Linden and Holder. One day I will revisit them, maybe a couple of years from now I'll watch the series again. I like doing that, knowing generally where things are going, but having forgotten enough of the nuances to make it interesting, even gripping again.

But for now, vacation is over, mandrels are dipped, I have a request for beads in Halloween colors. So I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

"And though I never learned to play I won't forget
The secrets of the game are all but dead

The coin turns to reveal both its heads
There's still a deal I won't forget

Now I don't even want to build on the layers
There's no need to complicate a simple thing

Hey there, baby, we'll be fine
I'll always want your peace of mind
I'll always look forward to better days ahead

Oh, hey there baby, we'll be fine
I'll always want your peace of mind
I'll always look forward to better days ahead."

(The Jezebels: Hayley Mcglone, Nik Kaloper, Heather Shannon, Samuel Lockwood)