Thanksgiving is over now. I’m still feeling thankful. This weekend was filled with amazing friends and family. The best thing about the weekend was the laughter. I laughed hysterically. I love it when something hits me in a way that forces me to forget everything and just enjoy the moment. I wish I could take it out of a drawer or a box when I need it. I do have a list of things that have made me laugh in the past. I look at it every once in a while, but it doesn’t have the same effect. At most, I’ll smile or let out a little “ha”. One of my other tricks is putting on Scrubs. I also know that Friends makes me laugh because lately when I have been at the gym working out and watching it, I have laughed really loudly and everyone around me has looked to see what is happening.
I’m the type of person who needs tricks. I get into moods (mostly sad) where I need to help myself get out of them. I use both mindfulness and distraction. Mindfulness brings my attention to exactly what I am feeling. I focus on my physical sensations and the moment I am in. On the surface, mindfulness seems pretty easy, but it is a practice like anything else. It’s an exercise in calming the mind and being present. Distraction is a bit easier. There are plenty of things to distract me but in a moment of sadness, my distraction tools have to be ready. When I am feeling a certain way, I don’t always have a clear head to know what my next step should be. I have a few go-tos that I know work for me.
I’m glad that I’ve figured out some ways to deal when things feel overwhelming. It doesn’t always work and as I said, it is a practice. I will also say that I’m thankful for practice. Practice is hard, but it’s good. It makes me feel like I am moving…growing…evolving. And I like that.
Randy’s Donuts in L.A. What’s better than a stop-over for a couple of chocolate glazed on the way to Thanksgiving dinner? Nice.
I am slowly getting to know the characters in my neighborhood. Today I met Nella. She is a beautiful tall Senegalese woman who works at a delicious Senegalese restaurant near my house. We started talking and she told me that she has two jobs and is also working on a new business she hopes to launch in January. She is crafting her own hats and dresses. I told her about etsy, one of my favorite sites, and she is going to think about putting her goods on it. It was absolutely lovely to meet her and even more exciting to find out that she is creative and doing something she really enjoys.
I go to craft fairs and read so many blogs that I have this created an image of people who are creative and craftsy. I think that they are 1) naturally uber talented and 2) have the ability to do their creative work ALL the time. These are both untrue and I have to remind myself of this. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a specific craft or am not very talented at art. However, I know that in order to become better at something you have to learn and practice. If I look closer at the women who write the blogs I read, I realize that they are not static with their talent and creativity. They are actually constantly challenging themselves and growing. I too am doing this. I also have to remember that there are people like me who have full time careers that do not necessarily fulfill their creative sides.
I have a feeling there are a lot of people like Nella and me – people who are expressing themselves in various ways outside of (or in addition to) their traditional careers in order to make them happy. I am so glad I am getting to know Nella. She is not only in my physical community, but my creative community as well.
Jackson Pollock: One (a piece of it)
Sam Francis: Big Red (a piece of it)
Willem de Kooning: A Tree in Naples (a piece of it)
I went to the MOMA today to see “Abstract Expressionist New York.” Abstract art tends to make you think that you missed something. As if there is some secret that you aren’t privy to and only artists and intellectuals know it. I actually think that abstract art is very relaxing because you don’t have to think any one way. I enjoy observing the techniques and textures. In terms of the meanings of the paintings, you can interpret it any way you choose or even just let the colors and richness fall over you.
I haven’t done any collages in a long while. There was a period of time a few years ago when I was making collages and paintings almost every day. I was trying different techniques all the time. I used tin foil, sand paper, wax, string, gesso, chalk, sand, sugar, coffee, the list goes on… I have come to realize that the only thing stopping me from creating art is my own fear. I don’t know when it happened, but I started to think about the finished products instead of the process. I used to pour my emotions all over the pages and not care about the end result. At some point, I began to want it to look “pretty.” And I stopped doing art.
My hope is that this blog will begin to release me a little bit. I will begin to enjoy the process of art and expression again. I know that the fear creeps in each time I start to venture into a creative space. When it does, I want to learn to hold its hand and soothe it instead of letting it lead the way. So far so good.
New York is loud.
The other day all I seemed to hear was screaming. On the subway at Jay Street on the platform above me I heard a woman screaming, “help me!” A crowd rushed up to see what was happening and people ran to help her. I never saw what went on and don’t know if she is okay. My imagination is still running about what could have happened to her. Later that day, I heard three women on the subway screaming at each other. It turns out that they were just talking animatedly. (I will leave more subway thoughts for other entries). Then later on my walk home, a man walking in the other direction screamed out to the cop car sitting in the street, “Get out of my fucking hood!” All I wanted to do was come into my apartment and let the silence fall upon me.
I am used to the noises of a metropolitan city, but somehow New York seems to be louder. It is as if people feel like they aren’t being heard so they have to speak louder, more aggressively, more assertively. It is an attitude.
One of the difficult things about moving here is that I don’t feel like I have the New York “attitude.” My personality is slower, quieter, more patient and more polite. If you don’t have this attitude, it startles you when you encounter it. It can also make you seem somewhat naïve. How can I be naïve when I have lived among diversity of nationalities, politics, socio-economic statuses, styles, and personalities my whole life? Do I have to become more aggressive to live here? Do I have to be curter? Do I have to be louder? I hope not, although time will tell. When I left San Francisco, I said that my time in New York would make me tougher. Now I am questioning what that means and what I really want. Tonight, all I want to do is be inside and enjoy the quiet.
Lately as I’ve been walking around my neighborhood, I’ve been thinking about Regina Spektor’s line, “Leaves become most beautiful when they’re about to die.” Before I moved to the East Coast, everyone kept saying that I was going to love watching the leaves change color and the summer turn into fall. I think that I forgot how quickly that process is. I blinked and now all of the leaves are brown. It was absolutely glorious to see all of the fall foliage, especially because I live in a neighborhood filled with trees. The yellows, reds and oranges were stunning. But, it was the same as with any sweet moment – you want it to last forever and you are surprised when you realize it is over.
The leaves are also a marking of time for me. It means that we have been here for a number of months. It’s pretty hard to believe. It still feels like we were sitting at our favorite pizza restaurant talking about our decision to move. There were so many reasons to stay and so many things pulling us to New York. It’s tough when you are given a wonderful opportunity that also comes at a cost.
And now it is getting colder, the leaves are brown and I am bundling up more and more. I got this yummy new scarf as a present recently. It makes me so happy. I wear it all the time (even inside). I simply love it. It’s nice to love something simply. I’m going to do that more.
Something in me has been stirring. It is as if creativity is an actual physical thing and I can feel it bouncing around inside of me. It’s full of color and light. It has needed a way to come out for a while now. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what that expression would or could be. I have come to the conclusion that it will be this blog – vulnerable pulp. Somehow my words, pictures and art will fill these virtual pages and become something. As with anything creative, I have no idea what the process or outcome will look like. That in itself scares me but it is also exciting. I would love for all of my words to flow, for all of the spelling to be right and for my pictures to be super artistic. Of course, that’s not always going to happen. But I have faith that this blog will be something good. It will be an expression of me. I will put myself out there. I will be real. Because that is who I am. If anything, I am a real, honest, true person in this world. So, here it goes. Gulp.