Fire Bad; Tree Pretty

Buffy: "I haven't processed everything yet. My brain isn't really functioning on the higher levels. It's pretty much: fire bad; tree pretty." 

I think I'm approaching show recovery. I'm getting better at it, I have a system down now. Sometimes shows are casual enough that I don't need recovery. Others are incredibly busier than I planned for.

The day after a busy show is spent in a haze. Reflecting, discussing, ruminating. Comparing notes. Scheming for the future. Organizing a million different next-steps that came about because of the show. A lot of it is spent too exhausted to think about any of these things. Find food. Sit. Eat. Sit.

Two days after a show, usually a Monday, it's time to regroup and reorganize my studio from the chaos it was left in during "show week." Paint bottles, jars, brushes, plastic sheets everywhere. The camera and tripod set up and abandoned in the middle of the room. Empty boxes strewn about that I was too busy to throw away after supplies were delivered the week before. Drawers left open.

Also, I'm a clean freak, so facing this on Monday morning is traumatic. I wouldn't be able to focus on anything if I didn't "restart" with a clean house and studio anyway. So, I spend Monday cleaning and reorganizing. I always start with a spotless kitchen, because I have a thing about spotless kitchens, and it makes me happy. I get anxious and uncomfortable if my kitchen is messy. We have a belief that all home organization "starts with the dishes." It's step #1. If the dishes aren't clean and put away, you're screwed. It's all downhill from there.

That's what works for us, anyway.

And these are my "days off." Exhaustion and frantic reorganization. I don't remember when I last had a leisurely, rejuvenating day off. 2 weeks ago? I'm not sure. I don't remember. I'm careful to never complain about that though. I loooove my job. Making art for a living is exhilarating and wonderful, even when it's stressful, emotional, exhausting, and never-ending. I feel fortunate. Blessed, even.

I remember when I was 18 and working inside Star Tours (the ride) for 38 hours a week (not quite 40 because then Disneyland would be forced to give you benefits) and having the freaking Star Wars theme song trapped in my head and my retinas burned electric blue from the lights. Everything looked blue. Milk was blue. I dreamed in blue.


I remember being 21 and smelling like Chinese food 24 hours a day, everyday, because that's where I worked, both as hostess and delivery driver. I only ate Chinese food, because I got one meal a day free and sometimes they'd hand over the "mistake" orders to employees who wanted them. Since we couldn't really afford luxuries like "food" back then, that's what we ate. Every. Single. Day.

I still can't eat Chinese food without feeling nauseous.

I remember first delivering flowers for a flower shop and then being moved into the floral design department, where I did get to use my creativity, but it was hard work, and I generally spent my days covered in (sometimes rotten and smelly) flower parts. Hours each week spent shucking roses. So many freaking roses. But, I really enjoyed my years at the flower shop. I loved being around all the colors, and experiencing the changing of seasons based on what flowers we'd keep in stock. Another designer there was also an artist, and she encouraged me a lot. Eventually I got to design the window displays, my favorite of which was a Harry Potter themed fandango for Halloween. School books, jars of herbs and glowing potions (blacklights were put to great use), owls and feathers, etc. It was a big hit with everyone.

I quit the flower shop because I was offered a job doing more "professional" work for a successful and semi-famous wedding photojournalist, who hired me because he was looking for a "cute girl to receive people and answer the phones." (And do all the Photoshop work.) It was more money than I made shucking roses, and I got to wear cute outfits and heels all the time, which I was thrilled about until I found myself having to lug gigantic wrought iron easels downstairs and to his car for him while he walked next to me carrying his Louis Vuitton man-purse. He also gave me daily assignments through the door while he was peeing, and spent more money on crocodile-skin shoes than I spent on rent.

This situation quickly deteriorated for me. Admittedly, I learned a lot from him about how to operate your own business as an independent artist, how to interact with clients, how to brand yourself and your business, and that it was okay to shoot for ridiculously high dreams. I'm incredibly grateful for this knowledge, and one day if I get over the pee thing, I might tell him so.

By this point, I'd managed to work my art career into a place that people wouldn't laugh at me if I threw caution to the wind and quit my regular day job to focus on art. It was a huge risk.

Refusal to go back to any of those jobs is what motivates me, even today. I haven't looked back. This is the best I've been at any job, even though I'm still learning what the heck it is I'm doing. It's truly amazing, and I love the opportunity. I work hard. I have freedom. I wake up each day with the purpose of expressing myself to others, to the world. I finally feel like I'm contributing something important.

My next goal is to learn more about myself, and why it is I do what I do. Why I am the way I am. Ideally, I'll learn better how to come out of my shell more and share these things with you.

One of the things I've learned is that being an artist isn't just a full-time job. It's a lifestyle. I'm never not an artist, and therefore never not working. I just distribute my hours differently than most people. If I wanted to, I could do nothing for a week, and believe me, sometimes that happens. If I'm sick, I don't have anyone to answer to. The flipside is, it all falls on me. If I'm not working, it only hinders my life. There is no one but me to kick my ass into gear and get going. There's no one but me to take the blame, and no one but me to determine my future. I am free to fail and free to succeed. I have no limitations on what I can accomplish.

I absolutely love that.