Paralyzed by Choice

My morning ritual is basically a walking tour of broken creative promises.

Get up, pack my notebook in my work bag – probably won’t crack it open today, but I should have it anyway, right? Just in case.

In the living room, sit your son on the couch to put on his shoes and extract from his (alarmingly tenacious?) grip your sketch book, three unfinshed sketches going on a week untouched, but obviously now’s not the time to be focused on that.  You’ll wrap them up later.

Down the basement stairs, step over the acryllic paints and canvases you brought home and dumped there a month ago, still shrink wrapped, foil seals in the paint still intact, brushes still bagged.  You’ll get around to them eventually.

Go to swap out the washer and dryer, glance over at the table covered in polymer, wire, and beads, two pendants mid-way through completion for the past three weeks.  You’ll find time to finish them someday.

One of the worst things about This Thing in My Head is, as difficult as it makes finishing projects, it makes it so exciting to start them.  And I have a broad range of interests – I love making jewelry, I love drawing, I love painting, I love writing, I love web projects.  Ilove the thrill of creating something.

But once the honeymood period of the project is over – when the real heavy lifting happens – This Thing in My Head nopes the hell out of there, and leaves me with yet another in a ever-growing list of things I’ll get around to finishing “someday.”

I’m learning to adjust to that.  Truly. I’m getting better at completing certain projects (especially hands-on and crafting projects), getting better at finding time in my schedule where things could potentially get done.  The problem I’m facing right now is – what?

I have finite time in my days.  Of that time, so much is taken up by work or my son – I have maybe two childfree hours a day, right before bed, and while I’m all for using those to work on projects – what?  What takes precedence?

How do you choose what to work on when you are creative in a variety of ways? The typical advice for writers is “Write every day,” but what if you are a writer who also paints and draws and sculpts, who makes jewelry and designs t-shirts and cosplays and collages, and only has a very small window of time daily to be creative? Do you cram it all in, forty minutes on X, forty minutes on Y, etc.?  Does that sort of jumping around effect the depth and quality of art you are able to produce?

Do you divvy it up by day, work on writing on Monday, do some drawing on Tuesday, paint on Wednesday, etc.?  Does that week long lull between sessions on any particular project impede gaining creative momentum, affecting the quality of the product while also prolonging the time spent working on it?

Do you wing it, say “as the Muse moves me,” and just hope to God that the muse will hit you, and when it does, it will be somehow related to an existing project and not what is sure to become yet another God-forskaen To-Do note on your calendar?

Throw me a bone, people.  I’m at my wits end. 


I May Have a Dollar Tree Problem

There are two things you should know about me right off the bat:

1.  I have elevated the act of on-line procrastination to a high art, and

2.  I have a borderline pathological obsession with the Dollar Tree.

These are essential points to understanding how I have wasted a sizeable chunk of my allotted monthly budget and most of my waking hours over the last two weeks watching Dollar Tree haul videos and making “little stops” at Dollar Tree.

Since our move in the Spring of 2016, I am now a three minute drive away from our local Dollar Tree, and honestly this has been both the best and the worst thing that has happened to my life.  I grew up more or less without money; my parents worked to put us through school (putting three kids through private prep school costs just as much as you’d imagine), so I grew up with a deep respect for good bargains.  I never quite understood friends – and there were quite a few of them – who turned their noses up at flea markets, thrift stores, dollar stores, and their ilk.  Meanwhile, I trawled clearance racks and secondhand stores to cultivate whatever look I was currently into, and was smug but silent at their inevitable compliments.  It made me love my little hobby even more, knowing I could be the envy of my friends while spending nearly nothing.

I’ve got friends breathing envious sighs at one day hoping to furnish their homes at Anthropologie.  I dream of the day where I purchase and upcycle all my decor from Dollar Tree and the local thrift shop.

So, it was inevitable that I eventually stumble upon Dollar Tree haul videos.  I dont even know where I found my first one – I’m a member of a Dollar Tree craft group on Facebook, so there’s a decent chance someone posted it there – but I’ve been watching them obsessively ever since.  They combine a few of my favorite things – the strangely voyeuristic pleasure of essentially looking in someone else’s shopping cart, the thrill of finding good bargains, and the challenge and reward of buying something cheap and tranforming it into something that looks like it cost a premium.  My favorite channel so far is Bargain Bethany (I think she’s cute as hell, has a good sense of humor, and I like a lot of her aesthetic (even the super “girly” ones, which might not be for be, but are things I could gift to friends and family), but I’m trying to find some other worthy channels to subscribe to (I know they’re out there, I’ve just spent too much time watching all of Bethany’s videos to do any real digging).

The problem with the Dollar Tree addiction is, “only a dollar” is “still a dollar,” and even those singular dollars add up.  It’s taking more will power than I’d care to admit not to go there and blow through half my monthly budget on the first day, but I’m doing my best.  As far as vices go, it’s probably less costly than most.  And it leaves you with a lovely tableu for your corner table.

I’m always on the lookout for good DIYs to tweak and incorporate into my home.  Anyone have any videos or websites to recommend?

Review: The Animators

The Animators
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a book I picked up on a whim off the “new releases” shelf at my library, and wound up being the book that, thus far this year, has resonated the most deeply with me. This book is about my contemporaries, women my age with similar fears regarding their own originality and creative worth (I’m so much more Sharon than Mel). It has a refreshing take on female friendship, and (as kind of a side note) while I’m not an animator, Mel and Sharon’s pop culture upbringing brought back a massive wave of nostalgia – Cowboy Bebop, Tank Girl, Bakshi films, The Maxx, Ren and Stimpy, Liquid Television – I was the kid staying up late right along side them, entranced by these weird, slightly seedy/sinister shows. Maybe its vecause of this that the sheer aesthetic of this book was so relentlessly captivating. Honestly, I would jump at a hypothetical opportunity to watch Sharon and Mel’s films.

If the novel suffers at all, is from being too ambitious. There are multiple game changer moments, several of which feel climactic, but there’s always more to come. Out didn’t bother me, especially, thoughI can see it as a valid criticism of the book.

I was astounded that this was Whitaker’s first novel, and cannot wait for the next.

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Review: Miranda and Caliban

Miranda and Caliban
Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve put off reviewing this book because I’m not entirely sure what to say, and I feel like my reaction to it is somewhat unfairly tied to my expectations for it.

I was obsessed with The Tempest as a child; I saw the play when I was 12, and proceeded to read it and re-read it, read literary and theatrical commentary on it, read about various productions and the liberties taken with it.  It was my gateway to Shakespeare, and I remain able to recite chunks of it, though with time plot details and context have faded.  That obsession was at it’s height 23 years ago.

Because of The Tempest’s special place in my heart, I was excited to read this.  My ultimate reaction is somewhat… underwhelmed, though again, this may be because of unfair expectations.  The writing in places is lovely, and it serves as an interesting character study – I was especially excited and pleased at the development afforded Caliban, who was always the character who interested me the most.  To see him get some characterization was, I don’t know, almost vindicating?  

But while I had been expecting more of a reimagining of the story – perhaps with an alternate ending – this is instead just a perspective shift.  To be fair, there was nothing about this book that suggested it was anything but the story told from a different perspective, which is why I have to concede my expectations are not necessarily a valid point from which to judge the book, but still can’t be extricated from my own experience of the book.

Functioning as a prequel to the play, we do get to see more of their lives on their desolate island, and the characters do get fleshed out extensively (you’re mileage may vary as to whether they are likeable or not; while I feel like Miranda was in a bit of an impossible spot, some of her actions grated; I felt much more sympathy towards Caliban). Prospero, I feel, became a considerably less sympathetic character, though this may be because we are only seeing him through the eyes of Miranda and Caliban, and he is not a POV character, so we get none of his inner monologue.

The writing was enough to keep me interested, but the book is fairly thin on plot (plot is generally secondary to me, but I know not everyone feels that way). Even so, I felt the resolution was rushed, for the length of the build-up.

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Y is for Yay!: #AtoZChallenge (one day late)

For about three years, I kept a running record of things I was escited about, or joyfully anticipating, or excited for, or grateful for, or just generally happy about.  The notebook was titled (because I have a morbid side) “Plum Blossoms,” from a quote in Sandman: Endless Nights:

“She decides to make a list of the things that make her happy. She writes ‘plum-blossom’ at the top of a piece of paper. Then she stares at the paper, unable to think of anything else. Eventually it begins to get dark.”

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Endless Nights

The hope was, of course, that I would be able to think of more than just that one thing, an I did – pages and pages of them.  When I was feeling especially down, I’d pull out that notebook read through the entries.  Some of them were upcoming plans – our trip to Florida in 2013, a good friends bridal shower, a big Burlesque show in Boston.  Some were intangible things – the smell of the air after it rains, late night walks illuminated only by streetlamps, impromptu sleepovers after over-indulgent night’s out.  Some were hilariously niche – a sale on strawberries at the grocery store, washing my sheets in a certain detergent, a particular episode of Doctor Who, a very specific Sherlock fanfic.

But they were all genuine, all real things – however big or small – that I had to look forward to, or be grateful for.  They were very real reminders that there were beautiful things in my life, in all forms.

I don’t know what happened to that notebook.  In the three moves since I last saw it, it could have disappeared at a number of different junctures, and I never started one back up.  I sometimes thing I should just go wholly digital, and keep tabs online, but where?  On my blog?  Who else but me would care?

But this entry is about “yay!”  About the joys in my life.  So, maybe not as a recurring feature, but for right now, I’m going to make my list.

Plum Blossoms

  • Warm, windy nights
  • Cookouts and game night’s at Raeanne’s
  • New Adventure Time episodes
  • Steven Universe Steven Bomb starting May 8th
  • Vacation in Conway, first week of August (us and five of our friends)
  • Steampunk Festival in a few weeks
  • Arts in the Park
  • Guardians of the Galaxy II next week
  • Boston Comic-Con in August
  • The sun not setting until, like, 8
  • Sketching out new jewelry designs, finally
  • Going to the library
  • Target Dollar Spot
  • Just got tickets to Phantom of the Opera in Sept.
  • “Fill-a-bag” sales at the thrift store

That’s today’s list.  Hopefully it holds me over until tomorrow.

Do you keep something like this (a gratitudes list, a Happiness list, etc)?  If so, where – online or in a notebook?  Do you share it with anyone?