I think I'm finally going to have to really, actually start setting restrictions on when I can and can't check my inbox.

Between draft, the fundraiser party, starting practices soon, and conversations between my co-captain and myself, I have written SO MANY GORRAM E-MAILS in the past week. And, that's on top of my usual round of work e-mails, personal e-mails, AND extra work e-mails I had to send during the few-days-period last week after my project manager injured her hand such that she couldn't type or mouse well.

I sincerely hope that my inbox will calm down after this week is over, or if not after draft, then after the fundraiser next week. But right now, my brain is basically melting.

Note to self: never let this team plan a fundraiser party this close to A) the end of summer, or B) a draft. NEVER AGAIN.
batskeets: (yan!)
Now it can be told: I signed a new lease for a new studio space today, and the move back to Portland's Eastside is on!

I checked this place out on a whim, and I slept on it for several nights, but there are just so many reasons to do it that I basically knew the second I walked into the place.

  • Rent is ~$200/mo cheaper than the current place

  • Utilities are included, which the current place does not do (that's another $100+/mo in savings)

  • I could potentially share internet with others in the building, which means saving on that expense, as well

  • It has good and proper heating and cooling, so my office will not be a gorram sauna anytime it's above 70F outside

  • I can get a reserved and monitored parking space for a fraction of what it costs to park downtown

  • I can hang a sign on the street side of the building, no permit fees or anything attached

  • I'll be in a neighborhood that I actually like to hang out in

  • I'll be in a building with other like-minded businesses

  • I'll (hopefully) not have an idiot mail carrier who mis-delivers my mail all the damned time

What am I giving up for this? A bit of ceiling height, and a bit of square footage. But, given how I'm using the current space, that's not losing much of anything.

AND, I will also be on the second floor--visible, but not as accessible. I won't have to wonder if a random vagrant will be sleeping on my doorstep when I arrive in the morning, and I won't have random tourists wandering in, asking if I can take pictures of their weddings or their babies. ;p

Basically, there's no real down side to this. I kind of wish I could move in right this second.

It's good to be excited again.

IT LIVES

Sep. 9th, 2015 11:26 pm
There is something immensely satisfying about having a bunch of wacky ideas, seeing them through, and having them be even better than you envisioned when it all finally comes together.



That's a test print from earlier today. I'll be using this template on my photobooth this weekend, and with any luck, we'll sell a grip of these 4x6" trading card prints and make a nice pile of cash. And even if we don't, at least I know now that the setup works, and can be used for other projects.

It's probably worth noting that I haven't been able to fall asleep at anything resembling a decent hour for the past several nights--and not for lack of trying, either. There's a definite sweet spot as far as the number of things I can focus on. Too few things means not being able to switch gears, and eventually burning out. Too many things means not being able to settle on one focus point for long enough to make any headway.

And, after having fallen into a (relatively brief, thankfully) depression not long ago, it's nice to feel excited about something. Hell, just being anxious was a welcome change--at least it was enough to get my butt in gear.

I guess it's a good thing that deadlines seem to shove aside a lot of the other negative and counterproductive stuff that happens in my brain, right?
This graphic (from here**) feels especially accurate in recent times:



I have too many ideas and not enough energy or mental bandwidth for them all. Just yesterday, I got an idea for a photo project that I'm feeling very serious about, and that could be the most important work I've ever done... but I'm preparing for a big event photobooth on September 12th, and I just got pulled in on a 48-hour coding project, and I just don't even know if I can spare a thimblefull of brain juice for this new idea.

But, UGH. It's so important, and it's about something I want the world to understand. It's about a thing that the world NEEDS to understand, if we're ever going to learn how to treat each other like real humans who deserve happiness.

The event photobooth could end up being a pretty excellent proof of concept, though. And all the setup energies going into this first one will lay groundwork for making future photobooths easier.

And, well, it's good to be busy. So there's that...?

** Can I just say? So many parts of my life and my history made more sense after my old therapist screened me for ADD. Even though I don't see myself ever considering medication for it, just knowing more about how my brain works allows me to better plan for it, and to be kinder to myself when things don't go exactly right.

Complaints

Jul. 23rd, 2015 01:01 pm
Client: "I want the photos to be taken from farther away this time; I definitely need a little more distance."
Me: "Sure, that's not a problem."
Client: "But I don't want my body to be in it, either. I just look huge."
Me: "...well, I suppose we can crop it in post, if you want us to...?"
Client: "Yes, let's do that."
 [later, after editing the final shot]
Me: "Here's the final edit! I've cropped it to match the crop you approved on the day of the shoot."
Client: "I want it cropped in more, I want my arms cropped out of it completely."
Me: [headdesk]

This was coming from someone who was very self-critical and hung up on her age and weight, and who also didn't seem to understand that, if you're going to take a photo from far away, and then crop everything out of it, then it completely defeats the purpose of shooting from far away. The distance affects how I compose the shot, but it doesn't make the subject look any younger, or appear any thinner, or do anything to minimize whatever physical feature they're fixating on.

------------------

Client: "Okay, if you can just make me look 10 years younger and 20 pounds thinner...!" [fake laugh]
Me: [also fake laughing because even though they're laughing, it is obviously not a real joke to them] "Everything's going to look great."

I never, ever like this kind of commentary. The client is going into the photo focusing on the negative, which makes them automatically more stiff than they'd otherwise be, and that ultimately makes those so-called "flaws" more visible. And, I'm obviously not going to say, "sure, I'll Photoshop the hell out of you so you look less like yourself!" I always do retouch, granted, but there comes a point where you have to either accept how you look, or make an honest effort to do something about it. Complaining achieves neither of these things.

And really, I can't remember a time when I've had someone walk in and thought, "oh, jeez, what an incredible mess this is going to be." Yes, humans are self-conscious, and I can absolutely sympathize with that--seriously, let me tell you about the 1-2 years it took me to get in shape, and then the nearly 10 years it took after that to stop constantly feeling like I was still a fat-and-lazy person. But in the end, 99% of that stuff is in your own head.

People are nice-looking, and age happens to us all, and it's all beautiful and okay. <3
Sometimes, you have moments when you know you'd be brilliant at something, but the words to convince everyone else of that simply won't come.

I think I have those moments more often than not. I'm too honest, too humble, too self-aware, and too grounded. I'm turned off by people with braggadocio and overinflated egos, and god forbid I should ever give the impression that I *am* one of those people. I've never enjoyed hard-selling things, and selling myself comes even less naturally.

I know I *am* capable of being that person who knows the right answers, makes the amusing quips, and speaks with confidence. What I haven't figured out is how to replicate that. And, part of it is certainly chemistry--I have enough of an instinct about people to know when I will or won't fit in with them. But, I also know that I *can* adapt and get along with a goodly variety of people... once I've had some time to figure out how they tick, anyway.

Still, it'd be nice if my brain would cooperate when I need it to, instead of being a stream of 10000+ racing thoughts that I can't quite grab onto.

Oh well. That possible dream may have escaped today, but the status quo isn't desperate. There could be a future here, too.

Onto the next thing, whatever it is.
batskeets: (j)
I don't speak on this often at any length, because I can only truly speak to my own experience... which isn't exactly extensive, given that I'm a ciswoman. And, as with many things, I'd rather listen and understand, than try to speculate.

In short: I've been the years-long partner to someone who began transitioning after our relationship ended. I've also been the (long-distance) support system during a good friend's transition, when they had nowhere else to turn. None of this is to say that I haven't made mistakes--I certainly made some of the most hurtful mistakes of my life with the former--but I endeavor to be an ally to the best of my ability. I understand so much more now than I did when I first encountered a transperson.

I've also seen more than one friend, since then, be absolutely transformed by their transition. It's not because of what's on the outside, but because of how it makes them feel. However they choose to present, they are now more themselves than they've ever been, and they absolutely radiate because of it. I can't think of a single person who would dare describe transitioning as "easy," but when I see the brightness in their spirits that comes with it, I know why it's worth the struggle.

Things like what John Oliver discusses below are just part of what make it such a struggle, and it's heartening to see someone at this level of prominence trying to educate the world at large about this. It's a big freaking deal. There are too many people who are more interested in satisfying their own curiosity, or labeling and shaming those around them, instead of simply trying to understand.

I know there are those who'll say that it's not "normal," or that it's a mental condition, or that god or whoever planned things to be this way, but guess what? I DON'T CARE. No matter how different a group of people may be from you, none of these things give you license to be cruel to them, or to take away their right to happiness. You cannot possibly know someone else's experience--the environments we're born into are vastly different, and we don't all have the same resources. The influences surrounding us are varying and, early in our lives, are not even something we can control. The way our brains are wired is unique for every. Single. PERSON. on this godforsaken rock. You can't know what they feel, or what they've experienced. And you, Mr.-or-Ms. The-Lord-Works-In-Mysterious-Ways, definitely can't know what God's Supposed Plan is.

Humans have a hard time admitting it when they don't know something, but in this one instance, let's at least try to accept that we have a lot left to learn. And then, keep listening.

Networking

Jun. 2nd, 2015 05:40 pm
I'm sitting here feeling terribly grumpy, and I'm about to skip out on Yet Another Networking Event, because I just can't handle other people while I'm in this kind of mood. (I'm already fatigued from my Monthlies, I couldn't sleep last night, and a stupid project bug basically ate whatever shreds of a good mood I might have had left)

There's another networking group that I haven't been to in months, and to be honest, I don't really want to go back, because the people there just don't do it for me--I can see how a group like that *should* function, because I see other members having those relationships with each other, but they and I are not even remotely on the same wavelength. It's not about being a nerd, either--common interests certainly help, yeah, but their values and mine are so different that it feels like we're always talking past each other. There have been a couple of instances when I left there nearly crying because I just wasn't making it work with the people around me, and you know? Maybe I'm not the only problem.

So, rattling off the beginnings of a list of things I'd like to see in a networking group:

  • People who are smart, savvy, and hard-working. I'm tired of "networking" with people who have no idea where their so-called business is going, or who aren't committed to it, and/or who don't really need to care because their spouse/trust fund is supporting them.

  • People who are HONEST, and kind, and genuinely interested in connecting. Maybe we won't end up being "besties," but hey, we don't have to be--as long as you're being real and being open, I'm going to like you all right and trust in your abilities. If you're too busy whipping out your 30-second elevator pitch to have an honest interaction, or to listen to what others are saying, you've already lost me.

  • People who are not overly spiritual. I absolutely don't judge people for wanting a spiritual aspect to their lives. It has value and it can help people get through hard times. But, I can only take so much hippie woo-woo, shamanistic, "soul purpose," guide-me-universe rhetoric--it's just not for me. I've met people who are very spiritual, and some are very sweet, but we never seem to click. I work hard to be a positive person, but I'm also quite grounded, and I like it that way.

  • A group of people who aren't all "coaches." Why is everyone trying to become a something-or-other Coach these days? Do we really need a coach for every aspect of our lives? I want to meet people who make things happen, who build concrete things, who produce tangible and valuable results.

  • Expects you to attend twice a month at most, on average. Carving out an hour or more each week is a tall order, especially if you're in more than one group that's demanding that kind of time! Monthly meetings are so much easier to manage, and still regular enough to be valuable.

  • Has some kind of structure. One thing that the networking group I've complained about does well is provide structure--there's a format that breaks the mob into smaller groups, and guides them to interact with each other. Having parameters makes it easier to manage. Unstructured mixers can fun, but only if my Introvert Brain isn't screaming at me, or if I buy enough booze to make Introvert Brain stop caring.

  • Not taking place before 9am. Because nobody should ever have to deal with me before coffee and breakfast. ;)

I'm not sure if my persnickety parameters make me impossible to work with, but I hope that's not the case. I've met some really awesome people through my work, but the vast majority of those haven't been through "networking." Maybe that can change.
Last night, I took the track with my home team, and we had a great game. We're now going into the Championship game undefeated, we had a ton of fun, and we played together as a team. I even got to jam a couple of times, and pulled down 35 points in a single jam.

Then, I went into the green room, took off my gear, came back out to the track where my travel team-mates were warming up, and told my travel team captain that I would be stepping down from the team.

I went to hang out with a gaggle of other skaters after that, and when a few of them commented that I wasn't at TT practice, I finally started saying it. And, every time I explained why, I felt more secure in my choice. People were remarkably understanding, and said things like, "good for you," or that they respected me for making that choice, or that they admired my self-awareness.

The right kind of support means so very much, in times like these.

There are times when you realize that, as much as you want to do all the things, and give them your absolute best, you find that you simply can't make it work--not right now, and not the way you want it to. And it kills you to know that you can't realistically give all of those things the passion and the energy that you wish you could. It's the kind of thing you lose sleep over.

Being world champions is a dream that deserves more than a half-assed effort. Everyone on this team deserves more than that. When I think about how the past two months have been, and I realize that I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be the person who just phones it in, who's too bedraggled to play at her best. I don't want to be the person who sleepwalks through drills, because her mind is a million miles away. I don't want to be anxious and guilt-ridden about all the things I'm not doing. And ultimately, if I can't give this mission my absolute best right now, then I just don't feel right about continuing to do it.

I am beyond grateful to the people closest to me, who listened patiently as I yammered on and mentally wrestled my way through this. And, I feel lucky to have already received so much support and understanding, in the mere 15-or-so hours since I made it official.

So, hey, it's going to be okay. I'm focusing more energy on fewer things, so I can do those things better. I sincerely hope that my life will settle down in the months to come. I'm kicking ass in my work, I super-love my home team and will keep having a wonderful time with them, and I'm going to be more present in every moment from here on out.

I'm looking forward to a hopefully-near-future, where I can do everything I love with my whole heart, AND my whole ass. ;)
batskeets: (j)
Well, it's March 31st, and I haven't done a monthly t-shirt design. Given how jam-packed my calendar has been, as of recent, that's probably no coincidence.

Not unrelated: I seem to have had a lot of very similar conversations, as of late. They're conversations about saying no to things, about prioritizing a smaller set of things, about doing what you need to do to care for yourself, about getting to a place where you just feel good about your life and what each day has to offer you.

Just last night, my teammate who hired me to design a logo for her finally confessed why she hadn't gotten back to me about the designs: she closed her small business. She wanted to prioritize a smaller set of things, and is really in love with her day job and with roller derby. So, she decided to stop stressing out about all the things she wasn't doing for her business, and just set it aside. (for now, anyway)

This, like other conversations I've had over the past month or two, have pointed my thinking towards the same question. I think I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to accept the answer. (and no, it's not the same answer as my teammate's. But it's an important one, nonetheless)

I realize how silly it seems that I'm about to throw down a sitcom quote while talking about Important Life Decisions, but hell, it applies: Ron Swanson once said, "never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."

Y'all, I'm beyond tired of half-assing too many things.
I seem to be doing better in the realm of making time for creative projects that aren't for clients, which is good. I've done artwork for three t-shirts so far, and have some nice ideas for the next few.

I also photographed and designed four different posters of travel team skaters as superheroes, in a scant two weeks. It was a concept I absentmindedly wrote down a couple of years ago, so it was pretty exciting that a team fundraiser gave me the excuse to finally put this concept together.

These images were printed out 18"x24" and sold in the fundraiser party's art auction, and pulled in close to $1000 for the team. So, yeah, I think I did all right. ;)

(click to embiggen)


I learned a lot from Spock, growing up. About being an outsider, about listening and observing, about using your intelligence as a tool and not as a weapon, about knowing when to choose reason even when your heart may try to get in the way. And, when called for, he could drop a foe with a subtle word and a deft turn of his hand.

I might have also peed myself a little, when I first learned that Nimoy was also a photographer. He understood how much value there is in looking for the small moments, to take notice of what others often miss. He presented images that challenged our ideas of what it means to be a person.

RIP, good sir. I will always feel privileged to have Spock's name on my jersey, even if my methods are nowhere near as refined as his. I'm only human, after all.
batskeets: (j)
And, I'm on Travel Team again.

Well, if I want to be, anyway. Leadership's goal is to treat all 30 of us as one team, even though only 20 at a time can be on our A-Team charter. The charter isn't being submitted for at least another week or so, and I'm not sure that I expect to be on it. But, they've said that if we made the Top 30, then we're on the A-Team, and should go ahead and tell people that's who we skate for. So, I guess I sort of made the A-Team?

But eh, you never know. I was the quietest mouse last season, because I knew I was at the very bottom of the roster, and I constantly felt outclassed. This year, I went in feeling like I'd make it, and I did. I actually said useful words and worked well with my blockers and played like I belonged there. Because, oh yeah, I AM good enough to be there, and I know what I'm doing. Maybe now that I've found my voice, I'll get noticed more.

So, I suppose fate has said its piece, and all the decision-making is mine, now.
...but, yeah, I can certainly see why people enjoy it. ;)

This bout felt like the biggest hurdle we'd have to face this season--of the other home teams, theirs had a stacked roster, and some of the most high-profile jammers in the world. Last season, they went undefeated. Still, our dedication and teamwork got us through, and it was an exciting and non-blowout-y game, but rather than snatching victory in the last minutes of the game, we held down a solid lead for most of the second half.

I now have an unhappy groin muscle, which doesn't exactly thrill me. I stretch all the time, and have gotten my share of awed and/or sassy commentary about my post-practice splits stretches, so the irony of this isn't lost on me. But, even if I have to sit out for more than a few days, I'm glad I was there for my team during this bout. I wasn't sure how well I was going to play, going in--Aunt Flo does not exactly contribute to my energy levels or mental focus--but I played really well, and I was there to support my teammates and build crazy-awesome walls with them.

I've occasionally and quietly thought to myself that, hey, we're looking pretty good, and maybe we even have a shot at winning League Championships this year. After this bout, it feels like we're over the hump, and going from Worst to First looks more possible than ever.

Gaaahhhh. I'm so proud of us. <3

10952486_10152793975558347_4183969542484848556_o
SO. There was a moment, on a Sunday a couple of years ago, when I was at a late brunch with friends. At one point, I paused to look up WFTDA playoffs results on my phone. Then, someone on the table wanted to ask me a question, and I said, "oh, hang on, I gotta check my scores."

And then, with a vague sense of horror, I thought, "oh my god. I've officially become a SPORTS PERSON." Granted, it was fandom towards an alternative sport, but, still. Sports Person. Gak. Didn't see that coming.

But, yeah, after a second or two, I got over it. And, XKCD has nailed it here. While I don't especially enjoy football, and usually find televised sportsball of any kind to be incredibly slow and entirely too commercial-filled, I don't plan on making fun of people just because THEY like sportsball things.

And, maybe next time I get a little too loud about derby, or Star Trek, or bad type design, or whatever else, other folks will understand it a bit better, too. :)

batskeets: (finger)
I don't know if it's just because I'm in a really horrific mood, but the level of entitlement that practically everyone is displaying today is filling me with SO MUCH RAGE. I really hope I emerge from and escape this gloomy cloud of suckitude soon. I've never really considered myself an optimist, but I'm feeling so negative these days that it's kind of making me hate myself.

I so desperately need a break. From work, from feelings, from people, from everything.

It's over

Jan. 15th, 2015 12:56 pm
The day after tomorrow, I'll be headed to LA for a short stay (returning Monday), to attend a remembrance for my grandpa.

Currently, the mere act of seeing a picture of him, or thinking for too long about him is enough to make my face crumple into a weepy mess. I imagine that seeing the rest of my family, some of whom are normally quite unflappable, in a state where they are feeling extremely... flapped? I don't know. I forget where I was going with that. But, yeah, I wasn't present when my grandmother passed, or in the days following, I don't really know what to expect, or how much I'll be able to hold my shit together.

Fortunately, I've had such a full workweek that there's been basically zero time to think about anything for more than the hottest of seconds. It weirds me out that I'm able to compartmentalize things to this degree, but I guess I really am the Stiff Upper Lip Girl, after all.
And now, a few things I intend to do in 2015, in no particular order:

  • Creating Space. So, that note that I wrote for myself at the start of the year? I think that's my theme, right now. There was just too much clutter in my life, in my obligations, in my brain, by the end of 2014. I've been cleaning my physical spaces, over the past couple of days, and there is certainly space that I could create in my life, too. Spaces that I can then fill with fulfilling work, fulfilling relationships, much-needed down time, and the occasional flight of fancy.

  • Asking for help. I am likely going to need help to knit all of these pieces of my existence back together, and I'm never good about asking for help. So, if things get tough, I'll do the vulnerable thing and just ASK. Who knows? Someone might even answer the call. ;)

  • Oh my god SAYING NO TO THINGS. Okay, so, maybe that's a little unfair to Past Me--I've actually gotten a LOT better about saying No to things. But, I skipped out on a lot of potentially-fruitful things last year, because I was too wiped out from other obligations. It's good that I said No in those moments, and honored and recognized my limits. SO, I think being more strategic about what I say No to might be the next step.

  • Not having roommates. I count my blessings every day, because I'm lucky enough to have roommates who are awesome humans, good friends, and who are reasonable and understanding of my various quirks. But, I intend to have the means to make a home of my own this year, and I will do so, absurdly-competitive PDX rental market or no.

  • T-shirt of the month. I got bored and designed a t-shirt for funsies, while I was on the plane to LA. I think I'd like to design a fun t-shirt every month. The tiny goal is making enough from sales that I can actually buy one of my own damned shirts, heh. I already have a couple ideas in the queue, so, fingers crossed.

  • Less hustling, more living. Something I've said to a few people, including my dad, is that you know? Freelancing has been a whole damned lot of hustle for not very much payoff. So, there'll be some new strategies, more openness to contract gigs, and applications for full-time jobs. If I get the right full-time job offer, I'll take it. If new strategies work out, hey, great. If I can get a decent stream of contract work through recruiters, then hey, also great. Whatever it is, I intend to have a better lifestyle with less hustle.

  • More of my friends and loved ones. I had a hard 2014, and I retreated into myself for extended periods, at multiple points. Aside from maybe... two exceptions, I feel like the relationships between myself and my people became wider and more distant, and it feels awful. I didn't leave enough room for us, and we paid for it. So, with that space I'm creating, maybe this can be one of the things that fills it.

  • Find a mentor. You could probably file this under Asking For Help, but wherever my worklife ends up going, some outside perspective, from somebody who actually knows their shit, is something I think I need to seek out. Whether that ends up being a business mentor, or a new boss at a fancy creative design job, it'll help me be more focused in how I improve what I do.

I'm sure there'll be more to come, the more I think on it, but it's a good start. :)
Things that I burned in the fire pit, in the last hour of 2014:

People senselessly breaking my things
Feeling disconnected from people I like
Not accepting my own awesomeness
Drama *
Being flat broke
[--REDACTED--] **
Cancer

* I didn't actually write-and-burn that one--I fully intended to, but then promptly forgot, because Hosting Duties + ADD + Booze. Fortunately, someone else did write-and-burn it, so I mentally did the same as they burned theirs.

** I know, I'm being a tease. I didn't read it the night-of, either, but listing it helps me remember that it was there.

The last moments of 2014 were about as good as they could've been, with how heavy my heart has felt. It was friends, chatter, hugs, shared joys and woes. There were a few faces that I was sad to not see, when the clock struck Midnight, but that doesn't make me any less grateful for those who were there.

I imbibed more than I should have, but I had my camera on hand at random intervals during our get-together, and I do, fortunately, remember taking most of the shots on that card. There were some pretty damned lovely moments of people I like caught in those frames. Apparently, even when I drink to forget, I still shoot to remember. :)

-----

I know it's a fairly arbitrary marker of time and transition, but things do feel somehow better in 2015. It's as if the whole world has been hibernating--nobody wants to make any serious commitments or big changes, when the year is about to end. But now, we're all coming out of the fog, and starting to take those steps towards better things.

The first text I received, after waking on January 1st, was a friend thanking me for kind things I'd said to him the night before. Something about that just made me feel unreasonably good about things to come.

I'm making plans, taking care of myself, and preparing to make some hard choices. I even have the occasional happy, potentially-useful idea floating to the surface again. I'm doing my best to keep momentum. I try not to let myself linger for too long on the things I can't control, because, yeah, weeping uncontrollably isn't going to solve anything.

Yesterday, I wrote a note to myself on my little whiteboard that said, "Create space for the things you want." Today, I cleaned the studio. There's something very satisfying about throwing things away, and creating physical space. I kind of wish I could do that with my mind, too, but even if I can't clean out the brain meats so easily, I'm making at least a little more sense of that particular mess.

It's a new year. It's going to be okay. Maybe even better than that.
2014: Where Dreams Go To Die.
2014: Where Hard Work Means Ending Up At Exactly The Same Place You Started.
2014: Where People Who Are Still Getting Up Get Knocked Down Again.
2014: Where It's Not Just You, But Also People You Care About Getting Sucker Punched.
2014: Where Reality Itself Becomes Your Nemesis.

My last sleep of 2014 involved waking up at 5am wracked with nervous apprehension, and then having a terrible dream once I finally managed to get back to sleep. So, yeah, I'm in a pretty dark mindset on this last day of the year. Not that I wouldn't have been already, but, you know.

I wish I could say that I felt confident that 2015 will hurt less, but I can't. I know that some painful things lie ahead.

In my fit of restlessness last night, I came to the conclusion that I will, in all likelihood, need to move out of the studio. I have enough to pay rent for January, but beyond that, it's not looking good. And, even if I knew I could pay rent for February and beyond, I need that money to live on more than I need it for work. Maybe things will get better, and I can find a new space that'll hopefully suffer fewer broken windows. But, for now, I need to pull my stupid head out of the clouds.

And, that also means the likelihood of having a super-fun, "there may not be work here for you in February," conversation with my project manager, too. I've never had to lay someone off before, and I'm not looking forward to it. I feel sad at the idea of giving up, but after the parade of shit that has been this Fall and Winter, I just don't think I can squeeze out one more drop of optimism. The most hope I've been able to muster is applying for full-time creative jobs, and hoping that a halfway-decent one will take a chance on me.

But, the question of my life's work pales in comparison to my family's struggles. My grandpa's cancer has metastasized, and he was undergoing radiation treatments, while I was visiting him over Christmas. He also had a case of thrush in his throat--a common side effect of the steroids they'd put him on--so he was having difficulty eating, swallowing, even talking at times. He currently weighs less than I do, and his energy was low. He'd seem pretty normal in the mornings, but usually ran out of steam by Noon and wasn't up for much beyond sitting on the couch and watching TV or napping.

I kept busy trying to help out around the house, so my step-grandma and my aunt could actually have a break, but it was a visit punctuated by conversations in hushed voices. Through listening to (or overhearing) such conversations, I learned that, in short, the cancer is, "everywhere," in his body. It's sounding like it's less a question of curing it, and more a matter of extending and easing the time he has left. Guesstimates were made as far as timelines, and based on those, it's likely that he won't be there to see me turn 35 in April.

I try to be grateful that he's had 84 years on this earth, but I still get sad every time I think about it for more than a hot second. I know that I haven't been there as much as I should have. There was never the time or the means--I was either working a 9-to-5 and propping up one of my shitty exes, or riding the self-employment train and barely scraping by. I think about small things, like how lucky it is that he got to see me skate with Travel Team last summer, and I realize that there aren't going to be many more moments like that. No weddings, or great-grandchildren, or celebrations. We're out of time.

That might even be an accurate way to sum up where I'm at: I've run out of time. And I think maybe I lost my way, this past year. I'm in exactly the same place that I was at the end of last year--all but broke, overflowing with worry, casting about for new strategies or new ideas or hints of a miracle.

I can't keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Tomorrow seems as good a time to start changing as any.

March 2017

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