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.

Letter to 13 year old me

I want you to know that you were right before you felt the need to be right.

The dog in the picture that sits inside your arms is different now. She’s a longer, daintier half breed. People stop you on the sidewalk to tell you how pretty she is. A beagle on stilts.

But you don’t forget the now deceased animal of your past. Small with soft ears too big for his head. You once sat up all night cleaning the worms he vomited onto the couch. He was one of those puppy mill puppies that was broken when you got him, but you were prepared to love him anyway.

You were fiercely jealous when he curled up next to your brother at night. Once you snuck him out of your brother’s room, but he stumbled his way back.

The dimly lit space behind you was too snug for him. The neighbors complained about his howls through thin apartment walls. And your mom didn’t feel well enough to chase him around. So another family loved him instead.

You were a clash of color. A smorgasbord of thrift store finds. Musty, knitted sweater. Yellow beanie. Yellow like sunshine. Yellow like madness. You put every single one of those rings on in the morning as armor. You knew you belonged here.

Why do I keep coming back to you?

What is left for me to forgive? To criticize? What is there to learn from you that I haven’t already internalized?

Today you match everything except for your socks, because you can never find the partners. You wear an engagement ring on your middle finger. Your grandma’s watch on your left wrist. It has since stopped ticking. You remember the day it stopped ticking and felt a little more alone, until the next meaningful conversation rolled around, and you stopped paying attention to time.

It’s raining. There’s a spider outside your window. You left it there because you admired the amount of work and time it put into its web. Your dog is asleep on the couch. Your man is washing the dishes you filled with dinner. You had a good day. People see you. This is the present. This is the love you surround yourself with. It loves you back.

You were right before you felt the need to be right. Thank you for allowing yourself to be huge by nurturing the most fragile parts.

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