Tag: the new year

Building Visible Inspiration

I offer no tutorial on how to make these doors but if you want to know more about what I did you can go and Behold My Inspiration Doors!  I used to tape magazine pictures to my bedroom walls as a teenager and these doors reminded me of that.  While in nearly every respect I would rather throw up for a month than revisit any part of being a teen – this may actually be one of the few fun things I remember about it.  Feeling free to paste inspiration all around you with lowly tape and tacks.

These are my inspiration doors that I put together because I don’t have any wall space in my office to hang an inspiration board.  I need to be able to SEE what my personal goals are and be inspired to work towards them every day.  My friend Sarah suggested using an inspiration board and I loved the idea.  I’d had some shady idea of something similar for a while – but I wanted to be able to see outfits of mine that I want to wear again.  So I thought a free-standing set of doors would be perfect for pinning fabric swatches and magazine pictures to while also being a great way to hang up garments that I want to be able to wear again.

Like this polka dot shirt.  The great thing about this shirt is that it ALMOST fits me now.  I could be wearing this in a couple of months if I stick with my goals.  I also hung up (but it’s not particularly visible here) my prettiest never-worn bra.  I bought it because it was cheap and because I had a bout of wishful thinking one day.  It’s about 1.5 sizes too small.  Not an unreachable goal to wear that one this year.

I am making my theme for the year: polka dots, stripes, and roses.

I used to mix all three of those patterns at once in various ways.  I’m not comfortable doing that at the size I’m at now but I’m determined to add some of each of these patterns back into my wardrobe even if only as scarves.

I’m really happy with my doors.  I haven’t had a lot of time to really play with them but I used the Barnes and Noble gift card my brother gave me for Christmas to buy an i-D mag ($$) and a couple of British fashion magazines.  the pictures on my doors right now are from a spread in i-D the winter issue #322.  So I’ve been pulling out pictures and going through all my old binders of fashion pages too.  All while watching SNL reruns, our current favorite nightly family entertainment.

In order to bring these doors into my office I had to finish unpacking all my craft crap and miscellaneous “How the fuck did this not get weeded out and left in Oregon?” crap and my office is now so much better!  It also was the last of my household needing unpacking for the move so it was nice to finish it before the new year.  Everyone knows you have to weed your junk out many times before you get rid of everything you really have no use for but I found a piece of fabric that I have continually decided to hang onto for years that I hate.  I mean, it’s probably great for someone, but it is a slinky black fabric with a huge bold red and white print all over it that isn’t my style.  I bought it at a deep discount and that’s the only excuse I can come up with for why I even bought it in the first place.  Quite a few yards of it.  I have culled through my stash of fabric many times and that wad of ugliness never got tossed.  I am all amazement!

Starting the new year out with dark confessions and a clean office and visual inspirations has made me feel cleaner and brighter.  My office is now a place for creating and writing and


Day 3 of January and I’m feeling pretty good.  How about you?

One Resolution for Every Week of the New Year

52 Resolutions for 2012:

  1. Do at least one form (one time through) every single day for the next 365 days.  (Any extra is a bonus – if I do one form a day for a year I will have done more forms than I did all of last year combined.)
  2. Be showered and dressed by 10am every work day of the week.  (My job makes it easy to stay in pyjamas half the day – I believe this has added greatly to my over all depression)
  3. Get a morning walk in with the dog 5 days a week.  Can be short, can be long.  Just do it shortly after getting dressed.  If it’s raining really hard do forms first and do the walk later during a let up of rain.
  4. No second helpings of meals.  Period.
  5. Don’t eat any geoducks.
  6. Finish basting the damn quilt you started five years ago.
  7. Take better care of feet (apply moisturizer after every single shower and do a soaking and pumice once a month – ’cause dude, that cracking is painful!)
  8. Make two new duvet covers using flat sheets for one side and pretty fabric on the other.
  9. Get on a once a week cleaning schedule (Saturdays always worked best for me: bathroom, vacuum, laundry, clean sheets.  Just doing the minimum on a regular basis will be better than the way it is now.)
  10. Make some cool shirts and wear them even if you think you look like a hog in a suit.  Hating my clothes keeps me depressed which keeps me fat which keeps me hating my clothes.  It’s a stupid vicious cycle.  Clothes used to be fun.
  11. Play the accordion just once this year.  Pick a moment when no one is home and have fun.
  12. Send 5 queries out a week until you run out of agents to query.
  13. Sprinkle all the carpets with diatomaceous earth.
  14. Wear makeup 5 days out of 7.  Seriously dude, if you don’t make an effort to pretty-up more often you will never crawl out of this sewer of a mood.
  15. Spend at least one hour a week in the garden.  That’s nothing much and yet would be about 40 more hours than I spent in it last year.
  16. Prune all the roses.
  17. Replace skanky old face powder sponge thing.
  18. Be in the present more often.  Don’t miss what’s perfect right now in the pursuit of what you hope will be perfect tomorrow.
  19. Make garam masala and curry mixes from scratch.
  20. Pickle everything using brine this summer (the traditional way) rather than canning in vinegar.
  21. Find the mighty huckleberry in its natural habitat and bring some home to play with.
  22. Grow wings made of fog.
  23. Lose 40 fucking pounds.  (Swearing is non-gratuitous)
  24. Forget the score.  Forget you think you know what it is.  Pretend you have no idea.  Pretend you can’t see your own death.  Pretend the world is one big mystery egg.  Do it because others need you to do this.
  25. Dismiss autonomy long enough to understand the collective self.
  26. Step in less mud.
  27. Get your bare feet back into the Pacific ocean.
  28. Finish the second draft of The Winter Room.
  29. Grow more food.
  30. When you hear people say ignorant negative shit about psyche drugs and mental illness – instead of feeling like the primordial sludge sucking at the edge of a goddamn swamp – be the light that illuminates their ignorance with kindness and patience.  Also pray that no one in their lives is suffering from mental illness and kills themselves because they don’t believe mental illness is not only real but comes with a very real suicide rate.  Be a light in their dark ignorance.  Send them love.
  31. Play chess more often with Max.
  32. Drink coffee through as many dawns as you possibly can.  That’s your best hour.
  33. Stop calling yourself a bitch, bitch.
  34. Take yourself up into the woods on your Vespa and get lost.  But not during hunting season.  And take a knife.  And wear boots.
  35. Save up and buy work boots.  I’m a boot girl.  Always have been.  Always will be.  How is it I’ve gone several years with no work boots?
  36. Get some rain gear.  Seriously.  I know you’re a die-hard rain loving bitch, but if you don’t get a slicker and rain-proof shoes comfortable enough to walk in you will miss out on about 300 walks a year that you know you want because the smell and the air and the sky are so divine when it pours.  Squelchy shoes are NOT divine.
  37. Every time someone thumps their bible at y0u, go ahead and thump your dictionary.  Same diff.
  38. Visit your old hens at their new home.  God, I miss those girls.
  39. Meditate on how much you like brown rice once a week.  (This will make it seem true)
  40. Learn to make a lotion you like in your own kitchen.
  41. Make curtains for Max’s one tiny window.
  42. Be 50% less of an asshole this year.
  43. Mind other assholes 50% less this year.
  44. Perfect your jam making skills.
  45. Stop silently cursing the sonofabitch lying produce man who wears the toxic smelling cologne.  Curse him out loud from now on.
  46. Practice double sticks so you never forget what it feels like to wield a weapon of minimal (but painful) destruction – so you never forget your warrior side.
  47. Wear diamonds in the field.  Lord knows you don’t have many and you’ll never have anywhere fancy to wear them and they’re just minerals carved to catch light – nothing more than mined ghosts reflecting the fires from the center of the earth where logic vomits babies into petrified forests.  Wear them.  Aint nothin’ in your life gonna ask diamonds of you.
  48. Run more errands on your bicycle.
  49. Write five new poems.  For god’s sake, you’re a poet before you’re any other goddamn thing.  Doesn’t matter if you’re good or not.  You know it’s how you think, how you dream, and everything in your life must be translated from the shorthand of poetry into regular language.
  50. Buy more tape.
  51. Celebrate the ridiculous.
  52. Never let a day go by without telling Max how much your life is enriched having him in it, smothering him in ridiculous kisses, and showing him your confidence in his innate light.  Keep it lit.

Hope I Can’t Account For

I love this minute.  I love this hour.  I have a bit of a fever, as I always do, as though my blood was boiling over and my head might explode with excitement waiting for the turning of the calendar.  I tried working on the novel but I can’t settle into a groove, I can’t hang onto a single thread tonight.  I was about to say that I wish it wasn’t so symbolically important to me, the new year, but it stuck in my throat as such a strange thing to wish.  Why not?  I get excited.  I spend plenty of time being a crusty old curmudgeon, why not get childishly excited about something completely abstract for once?

I am grateful for a lot more than I probably let on.

I feel hope I can’t account for.  That may be the best kind.

Sometimes we do things our whole lives and don’t understand why.

I think it’s fascinating to suddenly understand something that’s always been there, always been a shadow puppet in my life, always pulling my strings out of my control and yet I have simply called it this uncomfortable freakish thing and then let it fade against the more stark settings in a circular life inhabiting sharp square spaces.

I’ve heard it said that the devil is in the details.  I think this is true.

We don’t generally eat at table as a family.  I register a sense of guilt that this isn’t a bastion of strength in our lives as it seems to be in other families who take the dinner table as a sacred event.  No one shall be excused from the dinner table without they happen to be dying!  I have thought mistily about what it might be like to have a kid who can eat food without being distracted from the fact that he’s eating food because then we could all sit at the table together.  It’s a nice fairy story and it’s so facile to lay this at the kid’s feet.  He’s quirky and we accommodate him.

The joke is that we are all so quirky we have no way of drawing meaningful lines between normalcy and freakitude.  It came up in casual conversation the other day with Philip, something about eating at the table, the fact that we almost never eat in our dining room, I can’t remember how the conversation twisted out between us but at some point Philip pointed out that we never have really been people who ate food at the table.  Even before Max.  The only time we eat at table is when we have guests.

The light went on like it does in grungy cement basements where a single bulb switched on can feel like the inquisition of Christ in interview room #1.

I did grow up eating at the dinner table.  We sat down every night the way all families are supposed to do.  My whole youth I ate at the table with four other people and the thing I’ve never ever articulated until this week is that it was a constant exercise in self discipline to sit and eat while hearing four other people chew.  Hearing the various noises associated with mastication: teeth grinding down, saliva mixing in mouth cavities with food, open mouthed chewing noises, lip smacking, fork scraping against teeth and against plates, the sound of swallowing… all of these noises were like canons going off constantly in my ears and made it difficult to eat myself.  It wasn’t just being disturbed by the noises that my family was making but knowing that they could hear me making the same noises.  Someone once told me I’m a very loud swallower and I’m still traumatized by the thought of that being true.

It makes sense now.  It makes sense in my current life where we put these “quirks” up to the light and accept them for the part of our overall maze of mental issues that make us who we are.

I don’t have issues sitting at a table with guests, the kind of dinner where someone is always talking (me, for distraction), and where the general clamor acts as a mask over the sounds of eating I find terribly disturbing and unappetizing.  I don’t have these issues in busy restaurants or at parties where everyone is carrying food around on plates and generally chatting and shuffling so much you can never hear teeth clamp down on crunchy things.

My family, I think, may never have known about these issues.  We didn’t live the way Philip, Max, and I live now: in great acceptance of our differences and figuring out how to live in such a way that our issues don’t interfere with our quality of life.  Back then I was a chatterbox (as I am still) but in a different way.  There was a lot I never said, never expressed.  A lot of what I did express wasn’t heard anyway but I could never know if I let something slip, if it would let loose any repercussions that would prove bruising.  I’m pretty sure I told my sister to stop chewing with her mouth open and I’m pretty sure I scolded my brother for slurping milk in great luscious gulps, but never did I say what intense distress it was to me to hear the sounds of eating at the dinner table.

I have always hated eating anything in front of people not eating.  I have generally preferred to eat in private.  Where no one can hear and hate the sounds of my chewing and swallowing.

I was once told that I chew like a cow.  I don’t think I’ve recovered from that one yet.  I think I was seventeen when it was said to me.

If I become uncomfortable at any dinner table I will provide cover in the form of random chatter.  I will wait until someone else provides chatter before I will eat.  There are plenty of times, especially at large tables of people, where none of this could ever possibly be noticed, but the fact remains that eating is not something I’m comfortable about even though I love nothing better than to feed the people I like and love.  They are like irreconcilable siblings.  If you want to know what it takes for something to cross the line from quirk to uncomfortable mental illness, I think this is a great example.

There is no time when eating around other people doesn’t cause me some sort of anxiety.  I deal with it because there is also nothing I love better, nothing I find more meaningful than feeding people.  This doesn’t change my discomfort.  This doesn’t change the fact that “dealing with it” causes me a great expense of energy, part of why I am so tired after socializing.

Crunchy things are a living hell.

The real revelation is that this whole issue made it into the first draft of “Jane Doe” and I didn’t even realize it was me I was writing when I wrote Jane not being able to eat to the sound of people eating.

So even if I had a kid who could eat food without being distracted enough not to see it, examine it, think too much about it, or be grossed out by it, we still wouldn’t be one of those families who eat at a dinner table.

There is the blanket excuse that I need to eat earlier than Philip gets home, and while this is literally true, it is merely a coincidence.  If Philip started getting home at five pm (when I like to eat) I still wouldn’t want to eat at the table.

Maybe this is horrible to other people.  Maybe it’s a sacrilege to the ideal of family life as other people see it.

A lot of people believe that the cornerstone of a healthy family is to eat together.  I think this is because it’s a natural time to share what’s been going on in your day, your mind, you break bread (a sacred ritual) with the people you love and you commune.  I see nothing wrong with that.  Unless you’re us.

Here’s my last thoughts tonight: you have to arrange your life and the life of your family as it works best for you and not according to any impersonal ideal.  What’s important is that families talk together, that they listen to each other, that they come together and love each other as a unit, appreciating each other as is.  That’s what’s important.  How you do accomplish this is immaterial, as long as you are accomplishing it.

It’s okay to make up your own rules.  I will always have these eating issues.  When I wasn’t at liberty to arrange my life how it felt best I was in a great deal more discomfort than now.  I will always find this uncomfortable, food with strangers, food in quiet, food at solemn tables- and it will make me feel like a freak often enough.

In my own home I need not suffer so.  My people don’t want me to suffer so.  My people don’t need table time together.  My son is like me, I just didn’t realize how much I was like him.

I am reminded of my first psychologist, Jay Judine, who is dead now.  He did me a great service by teaching me that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to make decisions to live in a way that makes me more comfortable as long as I’m not hurting other people in the process.  If it helps me and hurts no one then I don’t have to conform to anyone else’s ideals of life.  He taught me that it wasn’t about depending on crutches, it was all about building a life that’s more comfortable and happy.  Being mentally ill has plenty of shit moments to offer but it’s okay to embrace your quirks unapologetically and to work them to your advantage.

That was a real gift to me.  I try to give it out whenever I can to others because I don’t think there are enough people saying it’s okay to accommodate your own freak flag.  It’s okay to arrange your life in such a way that you find more comfort, that you function optimally with an un-optimal brain and less than ideal issues.  It’s okay to be who you are, you are not less just because you don’t function the way others do.

I know it’s always hard for people to not judge us when they observe we don’t observe the holy family dinner table, that we “let” our child eat all his food in front of a movie or a video game.  They have no idea how torturous and impossible it is to get Max to eat when there’s no stimuli to distract him from eating.

I can’t explain it any other way than that it would be cruel to try and force him (or me) to conform to average people rules.  We’re different.  In our house that’s acceptable.  In other houses it’s extremely uncomfortable.

Here in our house, if nowhere else, it’s safe to be who you are.  Unless you are a serial killer or hurt animals.  We don’t tolerate sociopathic behavior but everything else is okay.  I can’t promise we’ll immediately understand your own brand of different, I can’t promise that we’ll know exactly how to make your own quirks work here.  All I can promise is that we’ll figure it out.

I have a hope I can’t account for.  I want you to have that too.

Before I go for the night, for it’s late already, I want to say one last thing, an acknowledgment of sorts.  I had a long talk with my mother tonight which seems like a good thing to do on the last day of the year, and in the way conversations turn and revolve we somehow ended up on the novel writing.  My mom was worried about us not having any health insurance at all and I told her that I intended my novel to be published and to do well and she told me that she had no doubt that my novel would be published and that it would do well.

Hearing my mother say that to me was a vote of confidence I didn’t expect and that I treasure.  I don’t think there’s a moment in our lives when a parent’s confidence and faith isn’t more powerful than the faith we have in ourselves.

I have to remember this for my own son.

Goodnight my peoples.  If you need a little buoy, if you need a little unaccountable hope, I have it to spare, just ask.

Happy New Year to you all!