Balancing Act

IMG_0364It’s Sunday. My apartment is clean, and I just made myself a veggie wrap with spicy hummus, red peppers, cucumbers, spinach, arugula and avocado. It’s one of my go-to healthy meals that doesn’t require a lot of energy to make. Despite the kick, the wrap tasted a little dull this time. I forgot the tomato.

A candle crackles in the background while I write today’s blog. I look out my window, watching tree branches bend and bow to each other, participating in early fall rituals.

In a few hours, I will retrieve my dog from her father’s house. In case you need a refresher, I’m a 29 year part-time owner experiencing what I can safely say is the equivalent of a divorce. I almost married my high school sweetheart and then didn’t.

I didn’t move out by myself. My family and coworkers helped me cobble together a plan of execution. I know good people, and I am loved. But I’m responsible for my own pieces in the aftermath. Some days are better than others. Meals—nourishing myself and being creative about the food I make—is something that keeps me going. Music. But that’s always been the case. I’ve been building a fortress of playlists to come to my aid and comfort during even the most seemingly insignificant expressions of emotion.

One of my playlists is titled, “Hey you’re okay, okay?” and I like to listen to it when I’m sinking deep into my own head. There is a lot of this band called Khruangbin on this playlist. They play a lot of earthy, psychedelic tunes. My friend Alexa and I saw them live once at a music festival. Their mostly instrumental, chillax sound is easy to coast into. The bass guitar really does it for me. The bass player is this groovy broad with heavy bangs.

I often feel aimless and purposeless, despite my continuous motion. My identity feels like it’s in a constant state of flux and the best I can do is flow with it and put it into the familiar outlets that I’ve looked to for years.

Lately, all I want to do is curl up into a ball in my bathtub and cry. Or pet my dog and cry. Her reaction to tears is kind of funny, though. She tries to do the same thing to my tears that she does to bubbles or spiders. She tries to eat them. My dog can make my sadness morph into extreme joy in a matter of seconds.

There are lot of things on my to-do list today. The majority of them involve art.

I want to draw a new sketch and share it. I started an Instagram account for my sketches. I have 32 followers and not exactly counting. I guess I should be following others, commenting, and following the trail of hashtags or whatever, but I’m just more interested in getting some content out there right now. Keep moving. Connect with others who are hopefully not bots as I go along.  There are millions of bullshit accounts out there, and I’m not wasting my energy on trying to Holden Caulfield my way through Instagram.

A year ago, I took a night class for drawing. I learned that I don’t plan enough and I commit to the same areas for far too long. I want my own signature style, which avoids the detail-rich realism that requires me to take weeks and weeks to complete one single piece. I still like deep shading and accuracy, but I think I need to focus more on what I feel compelled to draw and less on what seems right.

I also have a writing group I want to submit something for. I created this group with a few of my other writer friends, and we’ve been on and off again about it for years. It certainly has turned into some great pieces from all of us. I really enjoy their feedback, and give my best back. These women have helped me grow personally, and they have even helped me produce material that I have gone on to publish in small indie mags. It’s nice to find a home for your writing.

Writing group meets once a month, and we usually talk and eat a bunch of dips and veggies together. Last group, Alexa’s table spread featured cinnamon pita chips and chocolate hummus. Dear god, if you haven’t had the pleasure, you need to get on that.

And apparently I started getting into singing and tinkering with my keyboards again, which was more of a childhood love, but it’s making a clunky comeback. I’m not sure who is louder, the 10-year-old who lives upstairs from me and sprints from one end of her apartment various times during the day. Or me, as I botch up the chorus line of a song that only has four different chords.

I want one big, fat artistic life in the meantime of trying to support myself. I know I’m not the only artistic individual who knows all too well what this balancing feels like. Maybe you have poor coordination and wobble back and forth like me.

I’ve realized that I’m fortunate because wherever I am, whatever I do, I will always try to find to way to carve out time to be in active engagement with my soul. This need will never die, so I might as well keep feeding it.

Sundays at Valli

I love free slices of deli meat,
when they ask you if it’s cut
the way you like.

Today I ask for honey
roasted turkey.
It’s cold and salty.

When I was a kid my dad
always asked for a slice
of American cheese for me.
I never chewed,
let it melt on my tongue.
If we were lucky
there’d be freshly baked
chocolate chip cookies
by the bakery.
Mostly bird bits
in the latter parts of the day.

It’s one of those Sundays
where you pick up items
you don’t recognize
and ogle at their contents.

A jar of honeyed nuts.
Walnuts, pistachios
almonds, corn flakes
precisely aligned.

Smoked baby clams
in a can are $2.99.

Who uses the olive bar
and feels the need to
try seven different
types of olives?

And who among us
has braved cow tongue?

How do you cut a pomelo
and what citrus dream
does it taste like?

I put raw fruit
on the belt to avoid
using more bags
to bring home
to my cupboard of bags.

While we were away
at the grocery store,
our dog tipped over
the garbage can, sifted
through coffee grounds
and vegetable ends,
slurped up leftover
tomato sauce,
gnawed rib eye bones.

Containers licked
clean, now littered
across the house.

When our eyes lock,
her ears droop.

I want to be mad,
but she just wants
to try everything.

Mangoes

Last week I ate a mango like an apple, forgoing the cutlery. The juice dripped down my chin and stuck between my fingers. I had no shame about the loud squelching and appreciated the fleshy eroticism of it. Why not? It was a Friday afternoon, and there were three people working who sit on the opposite side of the office from me. No one walked in on the carnal act, and I don’t think I would be so devastated if they did. Point is it was the most delicious mango I’ve ever sunk my teeth into.

And it was a steal too. Got a box of mangoes last week from Valli for 7 bucks. Say what? Did you know that mangoes are super heroes? They are cancer preventers, immune system boosters, cholesterol-lowering wildebeests, just to name a few of the street cred names they’ve obtained. They are also good for your eyes, skin, digestive tracts. Sweet deal.

Hey, did you also know the plural form of mango is both “mangoes” and “mangos”? Either or is fine as long as you’re consistent. English will never make up its mind. I’m going with “mangoes.” Why the hell not?

Today I started my morning with mangoes in cottage cheese with a piece of toast. I ate this while I finally did my taxes. I think I might go to the library and feed my brain with something packed with nutrients and life-enhancers. Gonna go feed my brain some mangoes.