Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm like a tree. That curses.

I did it again! I have new ink!

Originally, as in for months and months, my artist and I tried to figure out a design to cover that one unfortunate tattoo on my back. In case you missed it, it's a name. A name that is longer part of my life. A name that isn't safe in my mouth anymore. A name and that is all. Neutrality is replacing animosity which replaced love. So anyhow...trying and trying to work a way to cover it up. But no such luck. The damn thing is too big and too black. (That's what she said) So we changed our strategy.

I knew from the moment I changed back to my Irish rooted maiden name that I needed to keep that symbolism. I wanted to represent me and my family and my roots and that part of me that changes and the part that never will. Names are incredibly sacred to me. What you are called becomes part of who you are. When I accepted someone else's last name, it was sacred to me. It was powerful and meaningful. And I needed to sever that bond and restore my former name. I did not want to represent that other name, that person anymore. I am not an extension or a reflection of that name or that person anymore. All I can be for sure, for real, for permanent is me. And I wanted to represent that permanence.

With the Irish roots in mind, I also wanted something symbolic of the extraordinary changes in my life. That is when I came upon the willow tree. It is a Celtic symbol of strength. It is gentle but strong, powerful and soft. Sometimes I think of myself as willowy, just in that knobby kneed, too tall to be coordinated kind of way. And the tree moves. You can see all of it move and flow with the wind and it stays strong. It symbolizes strength.

So the design is a conceptual willow tree. It moves and flows around the side of my body. To me, it means that the wind is always going to blow. Sometimes its even going to try and knock my ass down. But I'm still there. To me it represents what I am called. My name. The most intimate and personal part of what represents you. Your name. My name. The roots are showing and the trunk is twisted. But the roots are strong. And the trunk shows its scars. And it twists and turns and makes itself stronger. It is quiet. It is formidable. It is exactly what I think of when I think of who I am now. But not always quiet. I'm like a willow tree that is really mouthy and curses a lot.

The process itself wasn't that awful. 2 and a half hours with only one break. Not too crappy. I'm not one of those cry or pass out people. I do get twitchy. So I spent a good part of that time tensing every muscle in my body to help me hold still. It was painful. It's always painful. But that's the fun part. Art is beauty. Beauty is pain. Pain is experience. Experience is learning. Learning is life. Life is for living. And recreating myself after having been someone else's name was/is a painful experience too.


Just finished!


Body shot for perspective


couple days later. I see London, I see France...
Do not point out the stretch marks to me. I am aware.

I think the most fun will be when I model tonight and surprise all the artists with an enormous tree that wasn't there last week.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Here we are so far in the 100 things I appreciate. The list is already done but I'm doing this in installments. The list was written in no particular order, but I did try to just write and not stop so maybe there is some kind of subconscious order. Who knows. Here it is.

1. fireplaces
2. employment
3. failure
4. fear
5. laughing
6. lexi
7. peter
8. beer
9. quiet
10.kids
11. dragons
12. dogs
13. books
14. hot shower
15. black
16. purple
17. piano
18. boyfriend
19. beer
20. tattoos
21. that guy on the corner
22. home

And now we continue...
23. Coffee
I have this almost unnatural affinity for coffee. Like, I love it like a person. Like it has feelings. I've been drinking coffee since I was ten and my grandmother introduced me to beautiful black coffee. And it has nothing to do with the caffeine. Honestly. It's that I LOVE coffee.

And let me tell you about coffee mugs. I collect them. I have mugs that are special because of where I got them. Mugs I love because of who gave them to me. Mugs I love because of the size and shape and color. I have a special connection to my mugs.

So, every morning I stand in front of my mugs and I let the mug chose me. This sounds absolutely ridiculous but I am totally serious. I want the energy of the day's mug to find me so I can have my fantastic coffee with good energy to start the day.

This is probably why I am on so many medications.

24. Kickball
Kickball and I have had an on again off again relationship. In Jr. high the only thing I was ever any good at was kickball. And dodge ball but that is only because I was about 12 inches taller than every other kid in the room and I could catch the ball out of the air with one of my ginormous hands. Anyhow...kickball.

The game was brought back into my life a couple years ago. In holding true to my I don't talk about him anymore, let me short story this. Ex joined an adult league. I didn't. Old friends of his were on said league/team. He eventually turned up with a secret girlfriend from said team. Neat. So I got divorced, started my own damn team and turned those fucking lemons into some damn fine cocktails and new friends and an awesome boyfriend.

It's my way of owning the situation. I have come from submissive, home-bound, agoraphobic, self hating, scared little girl to a woman who wants to have fun and meet people and turn that bad situation into something different.

So yeah, I play kickball! With grown-ups! And I love it! And I captain the CRAP out of my team!

25. Your Face
Because I do. I love your face. I loveitIloveitIlove. Now get on over here and let me kiss it.

26. Texts
I was unable to use the phone for a period of time in my life. I was crippled by the fear of picking up the phone, dialing it, and talking to someone on the other end. I would go into full-scale panic attacks. And then...texting!

OK, to be fair, I worked through the phone thing. Being crazy is super fun. But I am one of those insane crazy texters. Like messed up thumb texter. Like carpal tunnel texter. It's how I operate. Sometimes I'm better when I can see my words first and not let them just vomit out of my mouth. Unless, I've had a few. In which case I ask that you please disregard whatever it is I might have sent you. And because it's a text I can SEE exactly what I sent you the next day. Which is NEAT. I'm the best.

There's bad naked and good naked. This is one of those.

I have a new thing that I'm doing. Just once a week. It's like a part-time job.  Or, exactly that.

Remember my philosophy of "say yes to all the things!"? This is one of those things. One of those experiences that it never occurred to me to have, but when the opportunity presented itself, I had to say yes.

It is art and creation and life all wrapped up into this fantastic experience. It is the combination of visual art and performing art merging with the observer, with the artist, with the medium, with the technicalities, with the emotions, with learning. So, what I do...figure modeling. For a figure drawing class at a university. And yes, I do this totally nude.

To answer your first question, No, I did not show anyone anything during the interview process. In fact, one of the things that made me so eager to continue with the interview was the possibility of being involved with merging art forms. As a performing artist, I could do what I do. I could be imperfect and real and faced with adjusting as needed for the observer and the moment. As visual artists they would see me as I am. Then take that moment and commit it to paper in all imperfection and shadow and creativity.

The first time was...um...different. Not uncomfortable. I wasn't nervous. Sometimes I think I am too dumb to be nervous about things anymore. Like my OCD is in remission to such a degree that I actually have no anxiety or hesitation about anything even when I maybe should a little. Anynakeddrawing, the hardest thing about the first time is dropping the robe. There is just no subtle way to get naked in a room full of people all gathered in a circle facing you while you are standing on a platform. So...you just go with it.

So there I am. On a platform alone in the middle of a circle of easels and charcoal. I must stand entirely still. And if I must move to stretch a muscle or what have you, I must recreate the exact position. That is SO MUCH harder than you would think. The re-creating I mean. Trying to figure out exactly how far apart my fingers were in relationship to my hand on my hip and the angle of my head. It's a very challenging experience. Like I said, I feels like performing. It IS performing. I get to do a range of poses of my own creation over 3 plus hours. Some are 10 minutes. The others can be over an hour.

My favorite part of the class is when the professor points out all my curves and flaws to make sure the students are shading and proportioning correctly. He gets all right up near "the figure" (that's me. I'm referred to as the "figure" or the "model". It's all very professional) and pretty much plays a game of I'm-not-touching-you-I'm-not-touching-you. He's all "Make sure you understand the girth of the pelvic area and abdominal area right here, see get all of these curves and shadows in the midsection RIGHT HEEEEEERRRRREEE." And that is the part where there is no hiding, no faking, no sucking it in, no spanx. It's just me and my stretch marks and cellulite and my body. And it is fabulously imperfect. And often very cold. But it becomes a personal challenge each week to stay perfectly still no matter what itch I have or how shivery I feel.

The other favorite part of class for me is when drawing time is over. Bending over to pick up the robe up is an art in and of itself. Remember that everyone is in a circle so a lot of these artist have just spent the last hour drawing my ass. So I don't want to reward that by bending over and check spreading for them. It's sort of this awkward little plie that must happen. And then... 20 images of myself turn into the circle to face me. All different angles of me. All different artistic personalities. And there's me. And they miss no detail. I've had kids. My boobs are different sizes. I have scars and sometimes my eyes look tired. And they talk about their work. It's fascinating to hear. And I am just the "figure" but somehow I have life that they gave me.

My mind is free to wander during all those hours of being perfectly still and absolutely nude. It was difficult at first. Boring. But I decided to use my time trying a conscious method of meditation that I discovered in one of my touchy feely emotion books that I read to keep my crazy and my post-trauma healing in check. What you do is "follow your breathing". You stay connected to each in and out and only ruminate on the breathing. Try to have a blank mind. Allow thoughts to come to you but simply acknowledge each thought as a thought. Disconnecting from the thoughts while always continuing to breathe. Sometimes the thoughts are awful. Flashbacks and recollections of things gone wrong.  Sometimes they are beautiful and positive. And I let them happen and I think to myself "That was a thought." And I watch it go past. And where thoughts used to control me, now I just see them as passing thoughts. And I feel like a big nerdy tree hugger. That's naked. And it is some of the most relaxing time I have all week.

So now you know. I get paid money for students to look at me naked. And I LOVE it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear.

Today is one of those would-have-been-an-anniversary-of-something-important-had-my-ex-not-cheated-on-me-like-a-tool days. But A) he probably would have no idea what today's anniversary was anyway and B) had he NOT cheated on me, I'd probably still be married to said tool and not living every day with my fantastic and handsome partner in crime badassery hilariousness life. You live, you learn, you stop settling for second place. AnyI'mnotbitteratall, I thought today would be PERFECT for the next installment of top 100 things I appreciate! (Remember how I said it would take time?

19) Beer
Funny story. I used to be strictly a wine or vodka girl. I hated beer. Thought it tasted like feet. Assuming that I had tasted feet, which I had for sure not, I was just guessing that feet taste bad. But it turns out that I was just having the wrong beer all those times I tried. I was trying light, domestic crap. Finally, I had my world opened to the gloriousness that is REAL beer.

I love Germans and Belgians and Canadian pales. I love dark hoppy beer and really crisp honey wheat. My current go to is Trois Pistoles. Not to be mistaken for Chimay, it is very similar but more mellow and a little smoother. It requires a large mouth glass and the perfect temperature. It's not a beer to rush. It is a beer to savor.

So yes, I've become somewhat of a beer snob. But it could be worse. I could be drinking a PBR. Or urine.

20) Tattoos
About 3 weeks from today I will begin the process of fully transforming my very first tattoo into my fifth tattoo. You see...you just literally never know where life is going to take you. So my advice is do NOT tattoo any one's name on your back other than your own children. Even then, I chose symbolism and not actual words. Because let's say, for example, that a certain obsessive-compulsive blogger made a decision to tattoo a name on her back of someone who no longer deserves that quite sizable space on her body. Let's say that said blogger was quite a symbolic and spiritual person when it came to art and body and specifically the merging of the two. Does it render that first experience obsolete or regrettable? No. But it does call for another experience.

My choice is to have that tattoo covered. I won't give it all away yet. It will be large and meaningful and the experience of covering the previous and transforming it into something that symbolizes change is part of the art and beauty of it. The pain is part of the beauty of the process. It's like being refined. It's literally art and body merging together. And no experience is without valid lessons. Some are more painful than others.

I love tattoos. LOVE. When they say addicted, they mean ADDICTED. Everything I have is a memory, a picture, a symbol, a reminder of that moment. Every piece I have is imbued with the emotion of that time. I have a piece in my own hand writing. I have a piece for my kids and one that keeps me mindful of my right to be alive. And, one needs to be changed. The experience was painful and big and remarkable and at the end of it all, it was what made me new. And THAT is permanent.

21) That Guy on the Corner
In my neighborhood there is a Little Caesar's Pizza as all good neighborhood's should have. Also they should have a 7-11, Taco Bell, and awesome local liquor store. Anyhow, these are the kinds of places that make poor souls stand on the corner with a sign advertising their devilishly delicious pizza at ridiculously low prices. Most just stand there and play on their phones and have ear buds in and look basically like they would have more fun at an enema. (which is NOT fun FYI).

Not this guy. Every day on my way home he is on the corner with his sign dancing his ass off. And singing. Dancing and singing. Not necessarily about the pizza, but he is so damn happy with his popping and locking and singing and using the sign as a fake guitar, that you can't help but be happy. And also you can't help but want to have some of whatever that guy is having. Which is presumably Little Caesar's Pizza. So I appreciate his enthusiasm. Whatever it may be from.

22) Home
I feel like I say it a lot, but I also feel like I can't say it enough. I love my home. I love the people in my home. I love Dual and the kids and the dogs and home. MY HOME.

It's not anything like my home was a year ago. Just one year ago. That's really hard to believe. And it hurt so bad when that home fell apart. When it became just a house again. A house with broken dreams and bad memories and I cried for that home. That home was and still is a huge part of who I am. And who knows where this home will be one year from today.

But now I am at home. Today. Where I live. The place I have survived to build and grow and change and live in and laugh in and cry in. Even when I'm crying over old memories and erstwhile anniversaries, I know that I am home. And I love it here.




Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another reminder gone, another string cut

I have FINALLY changed my URL. No more looking at that other one. The other one will still work, but now I am officially www.sonowyouknowangela.com. Which is liberating. I feel like one more string has been cut that tied me to the old person. The old life. The old way of thinking and existing. All of the posts are still here, from day one up until today. And none of the content of those posts will change. Because isn't that the point? To document life as I lived it? Real life good and bad and up and down. And then I can take those experiences and look back on them as they really were and not just how my mind decided to make them better or worse, and I can learn. I can screw up and have it documented so that even if I'm too stupid to learn my lesson, at least maybe someone else can.

In other news: I've been home sick for 4 days. I am going out of my brain. I need to leave this house. I haven't felt like doing much but I have managed to give my dog an impromptu haircut, change the sheets on my bed three times (because the dog peed in the bed after her superb and very modern haircut), catch up on my DVR, work about 14 crosswords on my phone and take a shower about 3 times. Today I had ice cream for lunch on account of the strep throat and now coffee. Good news: no appetite for real food, Bad news: NO BEER.

In other other news: The conference is only 3 months away! Remember?! In Chicago! I have 90 minutes to talk so I am still trying very hard to decide what exactly to focus on. Suggestions? Stories to include? Lessons to share? I am still very very interested in finding really committed people to work with me in organizing our IOCDF chapter. I'm about a year behind in my planning, but you know, sometimes life kicks you in the ass first. SO...if you or anyone you know in this area is interested, PLEASE PLEASE contact me.

ALSO: I haven't been able to do an IOCDF fundraiser this year because I've been really busy being a kick ass single mom and trophy girlfriend and amazing home owner/artist/dog collector etc. What that means is... I could really use your help! This is a plea from a crazy single mom to help me pay expenses to and from the conference where I am speaking! Anything additional will go to help support the IOCDF and eventually the local chapter that I am just sure will be full of volunteers in no time.

In my final sick-been-locked-in-quarantine-too-long-because-everyone-is-a-big-ol-chicken-about-catching-strep-throat-I-can-only-watch-Dr-Phil-so-many-times news:

Thank you. Thank you for giving me a space to grow and share. Thank you for your words and for your blogs and for your emails and comments. If I've never helped even one person find peace in their mental illness, that's OK because you have shown me mine. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you at convention and laugh with you and cry with you and grieve with you and celebrate success with you. Thank you from my vagina to my brain, from my inappropriateness to my crazy, from my old life to my new life, from my stilettos to my earrings. And now I take more drugs.

Monday, April 9, 2012

His name is Shiner.

I did it.

I actually did it like about 3 months ago but I just haven't been around much lately to say anything about it.

I got myself a new dog. An enormous-ass new dog. He's a puppy. But you probably are thinking all about cute little puppies with little puppy tails and little puppy poops. What I've got is a damn dog. And I love him.

His name is Shiner. Shiner Bach to be exact. That was Dual's idea because he is clever. He's about 6-7 months old right now. And he is clocking in about 60 pounds. He can put his head on the counter while standing on the floor. And he can knock the piss right outta you when he is excited about you coming home. Or at least he gets excited about me coming home. He also is very excited about bras, socks, underwear and pretty much anything designed to be worn specifically by me and under my clothes that costs no less than thirty dollars. I love my underwear. I love my fancy expensivee underwear. So does Shiner. But I love him. Within the first week of having him I had to get 3 socks forcibly removed from his stomach. But I love him dammit.

My other dogs are handling it. My crotchety old Peter (or Sausage if you hear Dual's version) cannot help but trying to give him a little hump now and then. Just a little game of just the tip. He wants to make sure we all know who the boss is. Lexi is un-phased and her position as queen of sleeping on my face remains unchallenged.

And he leaps. Like a damn ballerina. He prances and leaps and spins and twirls. And when he starts said prancing , the best thing to do is get out of the way because he WILL take you out. He is also the biggest baby I have ever had. He is scared of dogs a quarter of his size. He unapologetically sits in the corner and cries when Pete eats all his food. He needs help getting in and out of the car as if ME lifting this ginormous writhing ball of fur is easier than him just jumping up there. And remember, he can jump. Like a freaking pro.
He's a bit bigger now. I have been assured that eventually someday he will stop growing. But he is our family now, no matter how big he gets. And I love him.