Sunday, March 4, 2018

Déjà vu redux

"In my short life we've passed this way ten times or more
And never did this city rise up on that far shore."

Sometimes I like to go back and read my old posts.

The reasons I write this blog - besides hoping to go viral and be a force for good in the blogosphere - are to have a record of my life. At least my life since I started writing it down here.

Writing is therapeutic for me. I like words. I like playing with them, moving them around on the page or screen. I especially like the sense of satisfaction I get when a sentence or paragraph comes out nicely crafted. Or when I make myself laugh. WHich happens more often than you'd imagine.

Hypothetically, my kids could come here and read my thoughts and feelings and learn a little bit more about me. Theoretically, maybe they already do. Realistically, no one is likely to wade through the hundreds of posts I expect I’ll have published in toto, when all is said and done.

For one thing, it’s not all that interesting. Oh, now and then I cobble together a post worth reading. But mostly I cover a lot of the same ground. I’ve thought of changing the tag line for this blog to something like this. Part beadmaking reflections, part travelogue, part navel gazing.

Oh, but I do love my tag line about the muse, too much to really change it. Plus it’s been a constant since day one. (By day one, I mean May 1, 2012, when I posted my first post here.)

Recently, Neil and I thought we might have an excuse to go back to Yellowstone National Park this summer. I pulled up my posts from that trip, and I read them out loud to Neil. Neil, by the way, has stoutly declined to read my blog, although I’ve invited him to. He’s a strange one. He’ll stalk people online, looking for all sorts of public information about them, but he considers reading my blog akin to reading a private diary, an invasion of privacy so to speak.

Alas, the trip to Yellowstone is on hold and probably won't happen, at least this year. I do want to go back someday soon.

Tonight I picked a post at random to read, a post from August 2015. And by gosh, it was the same post I published last week. The same fretting over my conspicuous consumerism, my lack of will power, my inability to resist temptation. I drilled down to my intentions to do better, my resolution to rein in my buying and accumulating and stockpiling.

I suggested that I have an addiction. I contemplated the possibility that I need professional help. I talking about drawing a line under my collecting, about putting it out to the universe so as to make myself accountable.

Have I really made no progress at all?

It seems that way.

Not only that, but I’m still droning on about it like a broken record.

I guess that’s the navel gazing part.

In my defense, I got rid of a huge amount of stuff when we moved. I sold maybe a third of my glass. During the last phases of the move, I actually stopped shopping for a short while.

But then we had all this space to furnish. And decorate. We’re almost there though. I can stop shopping.

Facebook is my nemesis these days. It's my social lifeline at the moment. And it's my livelihood, which at the minute isn't all that lively, but that another post that I've posted too often. Let's just say, my reasons for being on Facebook are valid, or at least, rationalizable. I get most of my world news there too. (Snopes is my friend.)

It's also the source of great temptation. As we all know, Facebook knows what we've shopped for, if not what we've actually bought. I get very targeted ads, all the things I like, pretty clothes and shoes, bath and body goodies, home decor, and of course, beads galore. I mean how can I pass on six foaming soaps for $18 and $10 off $30? Or deluxe samples of upscale skincare with a $45 purchase and free shipping?

For some reason, it's taken me a while to recognize this particular rabbit hole. There will always be another sale, another gift with purchase, another discount code. I have enough. I have to stop falling down, down, down.

A couple of days ago, an online friend in the glass community, posted about the topic of too much stuff. I liked the way she expressed herself so much, I save her words. It's almost poetic. I thought I'd share it. It's called, I am sooooo over having “stuff.”
Please indulge my rant.
I am engaging in a little hardcore self-observation this morning.

I am sooooo over owning and storing a bunch of “stuff.”

My realization happened very suddenly.
You see, I have been seriously considering downsizing my housing.
Moving is tough enough.
But, moving a ton of stuff is a totally MISERABLE proposition.

My cabinets and closets are very neat, but totally full.
How, exactly, did that happen?
Geez. When was the last time I used that heart-shaped waffle iron?
Why in the hell have I been keeping multiple sets of plates, napkins, placemats, flatware, stemware, glassware, and tablecloths?
I quit “needing” those items LONG AGO.
(Actually, I’m not sure I EVER needed them. But, I always enjoyed setting a beautiful table for guests.)

Here’s the dichotomy.
I absolutely HATE visual clutter and I deliberately feature a minimal number of items on my countertops, end tables, and bookshelves.
Behind the scenes though, it’s like I am curating a huge collection of stuff for the Smithsonian.
I keep it neatly stacked in the closets and cabinets, holding it until the day, I MIGHT use it again.
That’s total and utter bullshit.

I have hit a wall.
A turning point, if you will.
There’s no comfort derived from having stuff.

Last night, I made a feeble start.
I cleaned out my linen closet.
I winnowed HEAVILY.
It took two hours for me to unstack, sort, decide what to keep, sell, or donate, and reshelve the keepers.
It was a personal victory.

(BTW, I don’t have this issue with my clothing.
Clothes and shoes come and go with no problem.)

It’s the other stuff.

Yes, I’ve read the self-help de-cluttering books.
I acknowledge their usefulness and practicality.

This morning, I am grinding my teeth.
I am shaking my head.
I am poking a titanium pick in my personality.
There’s no doubt I am uncomfortable with my collection of stuff.
Most of it needs to go.

The sooner it happens, the better.

Whoa. I can see I need a plan.

(D. Harrison)
I wish I had saved my response. It was along the lines of, I struggle with this constantly, for me it's the clothes and shoes, the jewelry, the beads by other artists, the bead store beads and findings for all the jewelry I'm never going to make. I’m going to have to figure out something because the psychic weight is starting to wear on me.

Since then I've made a reasonable start on unpacking my collection of artist beads. Seeing them again is my strategy for diffusing any desire to buy more. It worked for a while after I packed them up for the move. What helped more was not being on Facebook to sell my beads. I bought no beads until I started selling again. It's hard to list beads in the lampwork groups without seeing other people's beads.

Sales have been so slow of late, with a sporadic uptick here and there, and one steady customer who seems to have a limitless desire for my dot pairs. It occurs to me that if I stopped selling then I wouldn't be subjected to temptation all the time. But the drawback there is that if I don't at least try to sell some beads, why would I keep making them? I know, not everyone makes things to sell them. I could donate them, and I'm putting a donation box together right now, as a matter of fact.

But as I've said before, it's less about the money and more about the validation. Which is ironic, because I'm really not getting all that much validation, certainly not in sales, not even in many comments, although I do get a fair number of likes.

I guess I'll just keep trying to up my game, to improve my skills, to stretch my vision, to build upon whatever talents I may have. I really don't want to stop. It's still fun. I still like the exercise of melting glass and decorating it and playing with color combinations and reactions. I might have to get out of my comfort zone and experiment with new designs. Then again, it's good to make what you love.

Not to mention that time spent at the torch keeps me out of trouble. You can't torch and shop simultaneously.

Here are some of the little dot bead sets that I have been obsessed with making lately.

And a couple of patriotic cats.

Oh father, come to the window
Look over yonder lake
At the wondrous golden city
Beyond the icy wake
In my short life we've passed this way
Ten times or more
And never did this city
Rise up on that far shore

That's the sun, son, shining on the water
It's not Cairo, New York or Rome
And just a matter of hours before you see your mama
Waiting for you back at home

Big buildings at it's centre
Stand ablaze with light
While lesser spires around these
Entrap the beams in flight
Oh look now I see people
With faces small and fine
And in their midst just staring
A boy's face like mine

That's the sun, son, shining on the water
It's not Cairo, New York or Rome
And just a matter of hours before you see your mama
Waiting for you back at home

The sun was sinking 'cause night was falling
And the boy went off to sleep
His wondrous city vanished
Into the icy deep
The moon was rising 'cause night was falling
And all was as before
As we made our way past the countless pines
On the cold lake's northern shore

That's the sun, son, shining on the water
It's not Cairo, New York or Rome
And just a matter of hours
Before you see your mama
Waiting for you back at home.

(Kate & Anna McGarrigle)

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