Last night while I was at the library I scanned one of the art journal pages I’ve been working on.
Which is good, because I’m not going back to that library any time soon after the way they’ve treated my mother and me.
Originally the mammoth skeleton was because being stuck in a rut feels like straying into an antediluvian tar pit. But then our car got hosed, literally stranding us, and then we got trampled by the fossilized attitudes of the local queen bee and her minions.
So, you know. Check out my layers of meaning!
Maybe in a few million years whatever life still exists on this miserable planet will dig up my skeleton and find it educational.
I have always READ about people keeping two or three or six journals at once, and thought wow, wouldn’t it be nice to have that much to say? Creative work for me is generally more like whacking the bottom of the ketchup bottle until it spurts out some dubiously appetizing gunk. (I don’t even like ketchup. Maybe I should have made this metaphor about acrylic paint. Never mind.)
What I’m saying is, I am such an obnoxious perfectionist and so bored with my own thoughts that I’ve been like “what would I even put in six journals. Half the time I can’t think of anything to put in any journal.”
But. I am trying it.
Here’s the thing: I hate messes. I know, I know. Art is messy and that’s all part of the unbearable beauty of it, and also you wouldn’t know it to look at the state of my room. But I hate ’em. I don’t like my food touching. I hate coloring outside the lines. I can’t stand getting glue on my hands. I freak out if I step in something wet.
So I’m trying this: keeping several different journals to prevent cross-contamination.
The Black And White Book: is a cheapie black spiral-bound sketchbook. I decorated the cover with a couple of stickers, and I use it when I want to do basic black and white doodles, zentangles, whatever. There’s not a lot of variety and some of them are pretty underwhelming, but I do that kind of drawing more to relax than anything else, so it’s okay. The black-and-white book is a box to keep my doodling in so it doesn’t get all over everywhere.
The Art Journal: is a Strathmore visual journal. It’s basically the same as the black-and-white book except that the paper’s nicer and it costs about three times as much. I have performance anxiety about this journal, because the first one I kept was during my aunt’s last illness when my mom and I were wearing ourselves out trying to help take care of her, and I was too damn busy to self-censor very much and so it is a touching and intimate chronicle blah blah blah long story short I made the mistake of letting people look at it. Now it’s ART and I can’t do anything mediocre in it. Sometimes I can get past this (I have posted a few pages from my current Art Journal on this blog) but frequently not.
The Aeneid: is a vintage Latin textbook (it’s not actually just the Aeneid, it’s a bunch of different Latin poetry and one million footnotes) which you have also seen previously on this blog. I like the illustrations, I like the ratty cloth binding, and I like the way Pitt pens work on the smooth paper. The Aeneid is a nice comfortable corner to climb into when blank pages are way too intimidating; I can color in the illos or draw out of them or just doodle right over the Latin like a vandal (har har).
The Crap Journal: so called to distinguish it from a junk journal, which is when people take random crap and make gorgeous art books out of it. This, on the contrary, is when I take a lovely handmade book (well, a lovely handmade cover around some cheap flimsy pages, but still) and make random crap in it. Arrange all my washi tape by color. Draw flowers on one quarter of the page and then get bored. Whine endlessly about how much I hate journaling, and art, and my life, and the weather. Use up some of my sticker hoard. New Year’s Resolution: do not share this journal with the general public. Just don’t do it, self. The crap journal, hopefully, is going to be my dumping ground/sandbox where I have Official Permission to half-ass things.
The Index Cards: are my daily practice. I am not, at this stage in my life, going to write and do art in an actual notebook every day. It’s just not going to happen. I am, however, doing pretty well at the index cards. Because they’re not bound they don’t have to look good together and I don’t have to worry about ink bleeding through, and because they’re index cards I am not wasting good paper and so if all I want to do today is write UGH in large black letters, I can do that. (I have in fact done that.) When I’ve done enough that it doesn’t look like a blank index card anymore, I’m done. I can go back to bed if I want to. Also they pile up pleasingly fast.
There are no pictures of any of them today, because my life continues to be a star-spangled disaster and I’m doing well just to string together coherent sentences. But, y’know. That’s where I’m at.
Spoiler: we didn’t go to the movie on Monday. Or on Tuesday. Possibly tomorrow, we’ll see. But we are slowly chipping away at the enormous stack of Things What Need Doing.
Last night I had myself an anxiety attack, which was about as delightful as it sounds. I stayed up half the night desperately haunting Pinterest in an attempt to distract myself enough to calm down, and something must have rubbed off because I had a BRAINWAVE. Actually two brainwaves. One is a plan for awesomizing my workspace, if I ever get my room clean enough to rearrange. The other I am gonna sit on for a while. Stay tuned.
I live with my mom (anyone who thinks that reflects badly on her or on me is cordially invited to bite me) and lately she’s been feeling really bad both physically and emotionally — lots of obligations that are hard to meet, lots of interpersonal stuff that’s hard to handle. And when she feels bad, I feel bad, because I love her.
So yesterday while she was out and I was noodling around doing laundry, I decided to make this page as a reminder to myself as well as my mom. I care about my friends, but my family comes first (including my sisters-by-choice), and before everything else I have to take care of MYSELF. You know the story about putting on your own oxygen mask first, right? And part of my well-being is making sure of Mom’s well-being, just like part of hers is making sure of mine.
It didn’t occur to me until this morning that it makes a fitting Mother’s Day page, but I think it does.
That said, I know there are people out there who find today really hard because of bad relationships with their own mothers. For those folks, I hope you do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself today — maybe make your own journal page about your priorities, with yourself at the top! — and I offer this video and an e-hug.
So yeah, that happened. Ordinarily I’d whine like a baby for my mother to deal with it, but she’s been deathly ill this week, so I had to put on my big girl panties, and lo and behold it just wasn’t as big a deal as I’d thought it was. (My biggest problem was convincing the stupid thing to fly UNDER the window sash and not keep trying to climb through the glass. Insects, man.)