BLOG POST

I feel like writing an outline. Come with me.

BLOG POST

I. Introduction
––––A. Nonsense
––––B. Outline
––––C. Segway
II. Art Office
––––A. Fundraiser
––––B. Fall Session
––––––––––1. Turning Away Applicants
––––––––––2. New Features
––––––––––3. Session Finale Art Market
–––C. Future Plans
––––––––––1. Brick & Mortar
––––––––––2. Guest Speakers
––––––––––3. Multiple Teams
III. Job Hunt
––––A. Certified Nursing Assistant
––––B. Cancer Center Clerk
––––C. Parking Citation Officer
––––D. Art Office
IV. Personal Stuff
––––A. Friendships
––––B. Emotions
––––C. Medication
––––––––––1. Lack of Sleep
––––––––––2. Excellent Focus
––––––––––3. Hot Flashes
V. Creative Practice
––––A. Oracle Cards
––––B. Spontaneity
––––C. Journaling
VI. Future Plans
––––A. Fall 2022
––––B. Location, Location, Location
––––C. Adam’s Work
––––––––––1. Conservation
––––––––––2. Nonprofit
––––––––––3. Book & Papermaking Studio
VIII. Conclusion

That looks like an awfully long blog post, but maybe if I stick to the outline and only give each point a few sentences, it’ll be manageable. We’ll see.

Art Office

The fundraiser was a SMASHING success. If you weren’t paying attention: I held a month-long fundraiser for Art Office that ended last week. Our original goal was to raise $1,500 to cover operating costs, guest speakers, and membership scholarships, but we surpassed that goal after only two weeks, so I added a stretch goal of another $500, and we just met it. I’m using some of that stretch money to upgrade my iMac’s hard drive to a solid state, so hopefully it will be more reliable in the future. I don’t know what I would do if my computer died, and it’s been freaking me out a lot lately, so I’m super grateful to be able to give it an update.

I can’t tell you how much freaking work I put into the fundraiser, guys. It was like having a full-time job. Since I’m sure I’ll forget, here’s a run-down of everything that I did: Created fund/awareness-raising post and story content for social media, up to 10 per day, interviewed Art Office alumni and featured their work on social media and our website, went on the Englert Theatre’s podcast “Best Show Ever” to talk about the program, conducted weekly giveaways including donated items from local institutions (which I had to actively seek out months in advance), created and updated fundraising landing page on our website, created and maintained a Square shop for selling Art Office merch and accepting donations, designed and created the merch itself, created scripts for and executed live video series answering questions about Art Office, crafted and sent out a fundraising request email to all of my contacts, and produced a fundraising video. I’m sure I’m forgetting something. It was a lot!

And it was worth it, because we got a bunch of applicants for the Fall Session! So many, in fact, that I had to turn away a few. This group has ten members (including myself), which is bordering on too many, in my opinion. It was really difficult for me to tell the few who didn’t make it in, and to make matters worse, one of the people even sent me a sob story asking me to reconsider! That was a rough email to respond to… I’m not good at being emotionally removed from Art Office––it’s such a helpful thing, I know! I wish everybody could join! Oh well, it’s not the end of the world, there are other programs, and there’s always next session.

New features this session are: Discord, improved voucher program, and assignments! But I won’t go into detail about any of that, since I can already tell this blog post is going to be crazy long. Another new thing though, is our Session Finale Art Market, which is totally going to be dependent on Covid restrictions, of course. Right now, it’s scheduled to happen at Big Grove Brewery on Thursday, December 9th from 5-8PM. And it’ll be exactly what it sounds like. Members of this session will be setting up their art––either simply to view, to sell, or both. I’m really looking forward to it!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of Art Office. Always in the back of my head is making it have a physical location. Several people have encouraged me to go looking for “unconventional spaces,” where I could set up Art Office cheaply and/or temporarily. I haven’t started looking just yet, but I’m very open to the idea. If you hear of anything, let me know. :)

Guest speakers are on the horizon for the Winter/Spring Session! I haven’t nailed anyone down just yet, but I have ideas and I’m so excited for this feature.

To have multiple teams operating at the same time has been a goal from the beginning. The reason it hasn’t happened yet, is that I can’t afford to pay someone to lead another team. In order for Art Office to make enough money to employ two people part-time, I either have to start charging a lot more for membership, or we need a physical space where I can charge for cubicle studio rental. I’m not willing to do the former just yet, and I probably can’t afford to do the latter. One thought that I’ve had is that I could lead two teams simultaneously––but that would require that I work double what I am now, which I’m not sure I could do if I have another job. Which leads me to…

The Job Hunt

You may recall that I got really excited a while back about the possibility of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant. Well, that’s still a possibility, but so far, none of those job openings at the Hospital are ideal. What I would like is a 20-hour/week position where I work weekdays, during the day. For some reason those three stipulations are rare to find in one job.

So I’ve applied to be a clerk/front desk gal at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is where all of my cancer-related appointments are/have been. I know the place really well, I know some relevant terminology, some of the staff, and more importantly, since I know what it’s like to have cancer, I feel specially suited to talk to other people with it. Anyway, I think I would be a really good fit for the job. The only downside is that I’d be sitting at a desk all day. Oh, and it’s full-time too. Neither of which would be the end of the world, but the man who knows me best (Adam) says he thinks I would die of boredom. Which I very well could, but at least it wouldn’t be cancer! …[Was that a joke??]

I’ve also applied for a position with the City of Iowa City. It’s called Parking Enforcement Attendant, but I’m pretty sure the job is ticketing cars with expired meters. Which would be a DREAM, let me tell you! I have such rage toward people who don’t follow The Rules. Being able to actually serve justice to a flaunter-of-the-law fills me with excitement! I really hope I get this job. It pays really well too.

Of course, I would love to be able to call Art Office my full-time job. Like I said––I would have to charge a lot of money for the program if I wanted to do that. Somewhere in the back of my mind, there’s a feisty little entrepreneur jumping up and down saying, “You can charge more! People will pay it!” …I think I want to get a little more “legit” before that though. I need an Employer Identification Number, legal advice, professional branding counsel, maybe an app? Ultimately, I do think Art Office is going to be a money-making venture, but not yet. I suppose if I’m playing the long-game, I need to be patient.

I Hate Waiting GIFs | Tenor

Personal Stuff

I’ve been having such a good time with friends lately. A couple weekends ago was my sister, Erin and her husband Stephen’s wedding celebration in Nashville. Adam and I helped with a lot of the prep, service, and clean up, which meant that we were there a full day before and after the party, spending quality time with the newlyweds. I just can’t explain the joy!! It’s too much!! Erin and Stephen are both exceptional cooks and bakers, so we ate like royalty while we were there. Erin looked so lovely in her pretty white dress all day. The even took place outside, so when the sun went down, we had a fire. When everybody left, Erin and I put on swimsuits and sat in their little yard-pool and got drunk. After the boys went to bed, we continued to stay up sitting around the fire, talking about all KINDS of things. It was one of the best days/nights I’ve ever had. I sure do love her. (And Stephen!)

And then the next weekend I got to camp with my friend Shereena in Decorah, Iowa. The highlight of the trip was tubing down the river with a float between us full of hard lemonade! Pure fun! And the weather was perfect. Could not have asked for a more lovely experience! We also talked about eeeeverything. I swear, when Shereena and I get to talking, there’s just no stopping! I’m always wondering when the topics are going to run out or we’ll get bored of each other, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen, thank goodness! I’m so grateful for our friendship. It’s not often you find someone who you can talk so fluidly with. I don’t know why that is, but I feel like it has to do with chemistry. Anyway, that’s for another blog.

I have two standing social activities per week: movie night at The Fitzgerald, and Spa-Ya with Emily Jalinsky. The Fitzgerald is what I call our friends, the Fitzgeralds’ house. We have dinner and watch something with them every Saturday, and have for quite a while now! We rotate picking the movie each week, except for now, we’ve just started doing something a little different. Each week, we’re now watching three TV episodes: one of Ted Lasso, and one of two of our choosing (weird sentence, sorry). This Saturday, I get to pick one episode, and I’m having a hard time deciding. I’m thinking about “Convicts at Large” from The Andy Griffith Show, “Home Movies” from I Love Lucy, “Bombshells” from House, or “My Musical” from Scrubs.

Spa-Ya with Emily is wonderful as always. Recently, we decided to do a guided meditation as part of the practice, and it was so wonderful! I really need to do that kind of shit more. My emotions have been out-of-whack since I went off Prozac. Don’t worry, I’m stable––but man! I forgot how insane my insides can be! It probably has to do with more than just Prozac though. Honestly, the further away I get from cancer, the more real it seems. I rode that 50 foot wave like it was nothing, while it was happening––now I feel like I’m watching a video of it, and I’m like, “How did I DO that?!” But not in a “wow/happy” way––more in a “wtf/omg” kind of way. Does that make sense? It doesn’t, I know. Nothing makes sense, and that’s my entire point. Thank goodness I have a head on my shoulders and Ziprasidone in my blood stream, because otherwise, my emotions would be ruling my life right now, and not in a “wow/happy” way.

Speaking of Ziprasidone (my bipolar med), let’s talk about medication, shall we? I’m pretty sure I mentioned a while back that I’m finally on medication for my ADD, specifically, Adderall. Well, just recently, my insurance decided to stop covering the “short-acting” Adderall, and only cover the “long-acting” variety. What this did to me was straight-up torture. See, I’d become used to staying up late and getting up late, so I’d usually take my “morning” medication at around 11AM. With the short-acting Adderall, this meant I was alert and focused until bedtime, but with the long-acting one, I literally couldn’t sleep, even with 300mg of Trazodone. I went weeks, getting no sleep at all during the night, and only a few exhausted hours of rest in the morning. It was pure hell, I really wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Anyway, I finally seem to have found a way around it all––now, I set an alarm and take my morning medication at 7AM, and go back to sleep for a couple hours. So far pretty good.

The benefits of Adderall though, mon dieu!! *chef’s kiss* I can’t sing its praises enough. It really works. I wonder what my life would look like now, if I’d had Adderall in high school. I simply could not pay attention to anything back then! I wonder if I would’ve gone to college. Probably.

I’ve been on a lot of medication over the past couple of years. A lot of it was/is to deal with mental health issues, but some of it now is to deal with menopause issues. After my last surgery, I decided I wanted to get off of as much of it as possible (I literally couldn’t fit all of my pills into my weekday pill container), so I thought, “Hot flashes? I still have them, even on this medication. What’s a few more?” So I’ve been off that med (Gabapentin) for a few weeks now, and LET. ME. TELL. YOU. I’m not strong enough. I gave it the old college try, and can say with absolute certainty that I would rather walk naked across Antarctica than go another day experiencing this number and intensity of hot flashes.

If you’ve never had a hot flash, allow me to paint you a picture: You’re comfortable, temperature-wise; not too warm, not too cool––you’re so comfortable, in fact, that you’re not even thinking about it. Then a glimmer of a feeling starts to happen in the front of your neck. It’s almost imperceptible at first, just a warm tingling at your collarbone, but then it starts to spread. Now it feels like you’re wearing a heavy wool turtleneck––it’s an uncomfortable and distracting sensation, and it keeps growing. SUDDENLY, with barely any warning, the feeling jumps to your face and your chest at the same time––suffocating you with throbbing, torturous heat waves across your skin. Then the heat moves inward, making your whole body radiate like a swollen baked potato. Sweat has sprung forcefully to your face and scalp, and stings your eyes. It feels like your blood is boiling, like there’s no escape, like your internal organs will melt at any second. You remind yourself that this is only temporary, but even that thought seems to evaporate from the sweltering surface of your brain. What can you do, but pant quietly and try not to draw attention to yourself. It will be over soon, it will be over soon, it will be over soon, you say to yourself as you actually prepare for death. And then, ever so slightly, the heat begins to subside, and pretty soon, you’re back to normal, except you’re covered in sweat, which causes you to shiver for several minutes.

I hope you enjoyed that. Can you imagine having one of those every hour? Sometimes twice an hour? UGHHHHHHHHH Okay, I’ll stop complaining. Gabapentin makes them much less severe and less frequent, so I’m already feeling much better.

Creative Practice

I gotta say, I cannot wait for this session of Art Office to start, because my creative practice has been practically nonexistent for months upon months. During the last session, instead of focusing on my own art, I mostly focused on developing Art Office itself––which, to be fair, is an extension of my creative practice, but very different from making art for art’s sake.

This coming session, I’m going to be focusing on my oracle deck again. Adam and I had a heated conversation about it last night––”heated” because I just had a hard time explaining my position. This is what I was trying to say: When I’m not engaging my creative practice, I look at my work more-or-less objectively. I see work from my past, or work that I’m in the middle of, and I pronounce judgment on it (often ruthless). But when I am engaged creatively, all objectivism goes out the window, and I’m able to be “in the moment,” which is tantalizing and satiating at the same time.

The problem with my oracle deck is that it’s a layered project; the most exciting layer (judgment) was coming up with the content, and sketching it. Now that that’s done, I have several more layers to go (inking, erasing, inking again, tracing, transferring tracing to watercolor paper, watercoloring, and then combining the ink and watercolor in Photoshop), none of which are as compelling as the first (judgment)––UNTIL I actually start doing them. When I’m actually doing the work, it’s engaging and satisfying. Does that make sense? It’s kind of a mind fuck, I know. But it’s how my brain works and I don’t know how to change it. Shrug.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to finishing the oracle deck, so that I can focus on recapturing something I misplaced a long time ago––spontaneity. I’ve been sooooorely lacking it lately, as my life has become one predictable thing after another. I used to wield spontaneity like the sword of change that it is, slicing new paths in my creative life and beyond. I don’t know if it’s being in a committed relationship for ten years, or giving up on spirituality, or realizing that money actually makes the world go round, but for whatever combination of reasons, I have little-to-no spontaneity in my life at all anymore. And it sucks. It feels like stagnation and putrefaction and entropy all had a baby, and that baby is my life.

How to get spontaneity back, well… lord, I don’t know where to start. But journaling couldn’t be a bad thing. While I get a lot off my chest with these blogs, I’m able to blow off more steam in my journal. And it feels like there’s a lot of steam to blow off these days, and very few acceptable places to do it. Anyway… yeah, I really want to get back into journaling.

Future Plans

Well, this is probably our last Fall in Iowa. I say that, but honestly it’s hard to imagine leaving right now. My doctors are all fine with me moving––they say my chart and treatment is an easy one to communicate to other doctors. So Fall 2022 we’ll probably be saying goodbye to Iowa City… it’s a really hard thing to think about. We’ve made the best friends here. Our community here is tight and strong. I’m amazed at how well I’ve integrated, considering my hatred of the weather.

Anyway, the location we end up at is pretty much 100% determined by where Adam can find a job, but I do have some say. We’ve moved around the country for eight years, following his dreams, this time I’m putting my foot down if he even starts to consider anywhere as cold or colder than Iowa. Hands down. Foot down. Mic drop.

If I had my druthers, I’d vote for somewhere close to my niece, Mary, of course. I had been thinking Asheville, but the more I think about that, the more I remember the treacherous mountain roads between there and Knoxville (Mary’s locale), and how I was sure I was going to die, every time I drove them. Doesn’t sound like a fun bi-weekly commute. Honestly, I’ve been considering Knoxville itself, for the first time ever, as a possible landing spot. Just a thought. I don’t know. Chattanooga maybe? The other options are bigger cities that have cheap-ish flights into Knoxville, like Salt Lake City, the Pacific Northwest, Detroit, Albuquerque, and Savannah. It’s possible that Adam will land some type of position where he’s contracted on for a certain length of time. If that’s the case, I definitely wouldn’t mind a bigger city for a while.

Speaking of Adam’s work––he’s doing a lot right now! His position at the UIowa conservation lab ended, and he isn’t allowed to work there anymore as a non-student, but they like him so much, and he likes them so much, they’ve agreed to let him volunteer one day a week. No money, but good experience, and excellent people. He also got a conservation internship at the historical society here in town. That’ll be six-months long.

He also has a year-long contract working with Public Space One––our favorite local arts nonprofit! He absolutely loves it. It reminds him of The Birdhouse in Knoxville––very DIY, inclusive, and progressive. In fact, he loves the work so much, that he’s considering how it could stay in his life, long term. Not PS1 specifically, but nonprofit work. It really suits him! Of course, who knows how it could fit into his career path as a conservator, but anyway it’s on the radar.

And of course the other area he’s invested in is the book arts––bookbinding, papermaking, and letterpress printing. We’ve talked over the years about how fun it would be to have a joint studio with a retail shop up front, where both of us would design and print things to sell. This would be a dream come true for both of us, but the financial aspect of getting something like that going is way beyond our reach, and probably will be until we’ve both been working steadily for a decade or more. Ah well. We can dream. In the meantime, since he doesn’t have access to the school’s printshop, papermaking studio, or bindery anymore, he’s kind of put the book arts on hold.

Conclusion

And that’s my blog everybody! I’m interested in how not-funny this one was. Have I been getting less funny with my blogs? If so (and I do think it’s so), I wonder why! Maybe I’ll learn something about it when I’m journaling. Anyway, thanks for reading! Bye now!

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