Sunday, May 16, 2010

First market

This past Saturday I attended the Bloomington Farmer's Market as a vendor for the first time.  Once a month, from May to October, our market has an art fair adjoining the regular farmer's market.  I applied to it months ago, and then didn't hear anything, so, due to my usual complete lack of self esteem,  I assumed I didn't get in.  I'd heard that getting into this fair wasn't easy, because the vendors from previous years get first, I am never quite sure than anyone really likes my stuff.  I have a sneaking suspicion that many people just pretend to like it because they feel sorry for me....while saying "Wow, that's great, you're so talented, they're actually thinking "God, that's so sad. She lives in her parents' basement, she can't get a real job, she has no romantic prospects to speak of; I better pretend I like this doll/bracelet/amorphous knitted item that looks like it was made by a kind of clumsy third grader".*

  About a week later, I got a letter welcoming to the market for May, June, July, August, and September.  Woo-hoo!  Ten minutes later, I was in my studio having a panic attack. 

I worked like a fiend all through the month, getting ready for the market.  Usually when I've done art shows, I tend to sell a lot of my jewelry, some smaller dolls, and maybe one to three bigger, more expensive dolls.  I'd never done a show in Bloomington before, so I was hesitant to put big city prices on things....and I assumed that, as usual, I'd probably sell more jewelry than dolls. 

I was delighted to be wrong.  Although I love beading, dolls are my passion. I sold only dolls.  Two larger ones, and then seven or eight little ones.  Since Saturday dawned grey and unseasonably cold, most people were literally running through the market, snatching up strawberries, flowers, and eggs, and then dashing back to their cars.  From what the other vendors said, if the weather was nicer, we probably would have had even more shoppers.  I enjoyed watching people walk past my booth and smile at the dolls, even if they didn't stop to buy.  And some old friends came by to say hello, which was great.

What was even nicer was remembering that the main reason I moved back here is because I fit in here....I love Bloomington people.  We might look very different, but we all agree that this is a pretty cool place to be.  There were people speaking Chinese, French, and languages I couldn't identify happily purchasing vegetables from solemn Amish farmers and their pink cheeked, silent children.  Dreadlocked vegans munched homemade tamales next to suburban housewives hurriedly sharing a chocolate chip cookie they weren't sharing with the kids.....crowds enjoying cloggers and fiddlers at one corner of the market, while at the opposite corner, an Asian man listened to live Thai music with tears in his eyes.....hippie moms carrying babies in slings.....fathers with baseball caps and NASCAAR shirts carrying their kids on their shoulders....and everyone was just happily coexisting and enjoying the day.     

I love this town.


*Don't lie.  You know that's what you thought the last time I showed you something.  And don't deny it, because then I'll know you're totally busted.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A very big bag of lucky [but dumb] things

By spring 2009,  my parents had already been supporting me for a year, and I knew the time was approaching when I had to either move back in with them and sell my house, or win the lottery.   I chose the first, because I never know what lottery tickets to buy.  There are so many, and they all have all these different instructions and it is just too hard to choose.  Then, you have to pay cash for them, which I either don't have, or which has fallen into the other dimension of time and space that lives at the bottom of my horrible old lady purse.
Also, I was tired of living alone and just the word "Ohio" seemed to leave the bitter taste of failure in my mouth.

I didn't realize it then, but I was also more depressed than I have ever been.  I knew I felt pretty damn bad, but it wasn't until I'd been back in Bloomington for 6 months and started feeling better, that I realized just how far down I really was.  See, sometimes it pays not to Know Thyself too well. 

Before I moved back, though, I had to have a talk with the Olds.  Clearly, they had, have, and continue to do more for me than any parents should ever be expected to.  Clearly, I am luckier than a bag of very big lucky things to have them.  Clearly, they should have children who are successful, functional grownups, and luckily, they have two of those--my brother and sister. Two out of three is pretty good, I guess. And  I am not one of those people who could [or would] ever blame them for any of my own problems*.....but during my exhausting 30 minutes of self realizations, I also could see that many of the decisions I had made to date in my life, I had made based on Not Wanting To Disappoint Other People, Especially But Not Limited to, My Parents.

Things like going to Vassar, although I am very glad I did go.  Going to grad school in history [Why I thought THAT was a good idea, I still don't know].  Going to library school [I pretend that I decided this myself, but really, it was my mom's idea and it was also a good one at the time since the alternative was to simply continue to alternate between playing Super Nintendo and crying for another three months]. Buying a house. Staying in a bad relationship way longer than I should have because I didn't want to fail at that AGAIN and be a disappointment in yet another way.  [Even though my parents had been tired of that relationship since the 80s]

All my parents have ever really wanted for their children is for us to be happy.  You know, like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias minus the fake Southern accent.  I honestly don't think that they would have cared much if I had gone exactly the opposite on most of the above.  But apparently, my sense of duty and guilt is so overdeveloped that I will consistently do things that I THINK they want me to do, and continually judge myself against what I think that they might think, rather than, you know, just do what I really honestly want to. There are so many levels of dysfunction in my sick little monkey mind that it is hard to pry them all apart.**

But I know my parents, and I knew that if I lived with them, that unless I had a real plan for what to do, that life would eventually degenerate into them subtly reading aloud the help wanted ads, and asking me leading questions, and that pretty soon I would find myself in yet another ill advised educational program/career choice/relationship....and that the cycle would begin again.  Let me be clear.  This would not be my parents' fault.

It would be MINE, for continuing to try to have the normal life that most people achieve without really thinking about it, and which is just not ever going to work for me.  You know, working a regular job, getting married or otherwise coupled, breeding little humans, having a 401k, being able to keep my eyebrows nominally groomed.   Those things, for whatever reason, are completely beyond me. I am glad other people have them, but I honestly never wanted any of the things that girls are supposed to want,  such as babies, picket fences, being emaciated, a husband with a good job, plenty of closet space or ridiculously expensive shoes.  I mean, I do like plenty of closet space.  So I can put fabric and yarn into it.  My choice of mate is mostly based on less practical things, like "Does this person pay attention to me?"  and  "Do they not vomit when I disrobe?"  And the expensive shoes I like are mostly black, clunky, and located in what my sister calls "the lesbian section" at DSW.  I do love babies, but not being able to litter train them is a deal-breaker.

Being a librarian worked for me only because it allowed me, up to a certain point, to be unconventional.  There is nothing odd about librarians who knit, collect cats, are somewhat bitter spinsters, read obsessively, and wear comfortable clunky Doc Martens.   It is not even odd to be all of these things at once.  Some librarians even defy the old stereotypes and embrace the new geek chic, wearing lipstick and odd homemade dresses with their glasses while selling poorly made fruit cozies and journals made of used toilet paper on Etsy while taking time out to drink microbrewed beer and sing karaoke on the weekends.

What librarians are NOT supposed to do, apparently, is express opinions, demand a living wage, or draw attention to themselves either professionally or privately without express permission of their director.  I probably could have managed to skin by on the first two.  But ever since I can remember, whether I try to or not, I do attract attention.  I don't really know why.  I'm sure a lot of it is due to just being an ass.  Which is fine.  My father always exhorts me to stick with my strengths, and that is surely a big one.

So, at some point, hopefully long before the age of 40, even if you've spent most of your life on the Isle of Cluelessness, you have to accept certain things about yourself and adjust life to your strengths and not the other way around.  So, I told the Olds that if I moved back in with them, of course they would have my undying gratitude and love and that when they become too feeble, I will open their wine bottles for them***......but that they also needed to understand that I am different, and not just because I am crazy.  And that I would not be moving back to try and get a stupid job that I would then mess up, and then try to get another one and screw that up too, and that I was not going back to school, EVER.  That I could do all of those things by myself, in Ohio, continuing on my merry, misguided way, trying to fit my square pegs into round holes**** and never succeeding.  If I came home to Bloomington, it would be, simply to be MYSELF.  And do things the only way I know how, which is by creating, and being an ass, and fitting in with all the other creative, underemployed but happy asses here. 

By the end of this conversation [proclamation is probably a more accurate description], I was shaking and sobbing.  And the poor Olds were just looking on in astonishment.  I don't think they had any idea just what a mess I really was, or that I'd spent so much of my life trying to please my own ideas of what they wanted....because, of course, those were my ideas, not theirs.  Apparently, when the Olds raised me to always consider other people's feelings, I misunderstood the part about figuring out what those feelings actually ARE.  Of course, since I seem to have spent so much of my life busily attempting to fulfill the imagined expectations of others, it shouldn't suprise me that I haven't spent that much time figuring out what I really want. 

Now, that I have, though, it is pretty simple.  I want to live in Bloomington.  Permanently.  And I want to make things, and hopefully, figure out how to support myself from doing so.  Whoah.  That wasn't nearly as hard as it should have been.  Imagine taking 40 years to figure that out.

*Except the short gorilla legs, tipped uterus, and the obsession with Criminal Minds.  They are completely to blame for all of that.

**Therapy, you say? Well, I've done that. Several times. The problem is, my first therapist died, which was [and continues to be] inconvenient. My second therapist, who was awesome beyond belief, disappeared. And my third one mostly asked me questions about knitting since I was knitting in the waiting room. I realize that I am free to find yet another therapist, but why pay money for someone to tell me the same crap I can figure out if I sit still for ten minutes and write it all down? Why deprive all six of you the amusement value of peering into my cluttered mind?

***Because old age doesn't mean you should give up your hobbies.

****That sounds much dirtier than I meant it to.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Self Reflecty Crap

I think I mentioned that before I moved back to Indiana, I had to sort out some things.  Annoying things, like Who Am I ? What Am I Doing Here? Where Did I Go Wrong? Spit or Swallow?

Things that require, like, thinking about myself.  Not my normal every day thinking about myself which is mostly limited to
1. What kind of chocolate can I eat today?
 2. My friends/family/dogs aren't paying enough attention to me today
and quite often
3. Is it a yarn buying day?
4. Sweatpants or nightgown?
not to mention
 5. How many episodes of Criminal Minds can I watch in only 12 hours?*

No, I had to put these vital issues on hold, sometimes for up to an hour or two at a time, and try to figure out what to do next.  I mean, you cannot watch Criminal Minds if you live on the street.**

So I did something I don't enjoy....I took a complete, thoughtful inventory of My Life to Date.  I divided it up as such:

Things I Can Do
-Make dolls.
-Hoard the supplies for all three.
-Force golden retrievers to love me better than anyone else
-Read books and talk about them
-Make fun of people, especially myself, Republicans, and the Olds***
-Be a really good librarian except for the part where you have to deal with the administration and all that officey nonsense
-Tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.

Things I Can't Do.
-Keep my mouth shut when it is best for my career, relationships with others, or personal safety
-Geometry, or any other form of math beyond basic arithmetic
-Understand what goes on in the minds of mean, selfish people****
-Eat beets, or watch other people do so
-Kill spiders*****
-Go back to school, ever, because I loathed every single second of it from kindergarten on.  Well, not every single second.  Just the bits in the classroom. Recess, lunch, and residential life at college...those were fun.

Things I Would Like to Do Before Joining My Savior Jesus Christ In His Holy Kingdom.
-Not be struck down by lightning for laughing so hard at myself when I write things like that
-Live in Bloomington again
-Possibly get some self confidence back. Oh, and sanity. Might as well shoot for the goddamn moon.
-Figure out a way to support myself that does not involve walking on eggshells 99% of the time, meaning, not in an office environment, or, frankly, any environment that contains other humans on a daily basis with whom I must get along, respect, and try not to piss off just by existing
-Live a creative lifestyle....and by creative I do NOT mean multiple sexual partners of varying genders, recreational drug use, tattooing the living shit out of myself, or being so green that I must use my own thumb to wipe.  Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things, even though none of them appeal to me except the first one.   I just mean that I want my life to center around creating art, instead of having art be the thing I do when I've done all the other stuff I "have" to do. 
-Marry rich

Things I Would Rather Join the Republican Party and Attend Church Regularly Than Do
-Join the Republican party
-Attend church at all
-Stop making fun of Republicans
-Spend one second in a library building as an employee ever again. Unless it is my own private library completely owned and operated by me, and we call those "independent bookstores" and they're about as rare as a tea party Democrat these days
--Own a home ever again

and last, but strangely, not least,

How The Fuck Am I Going To Ever Support Myself With No Skills, Training, or Ability to Deal With People Outside My Immediate Family. 


Naturally, after looking at My Life, I had a little nervous breakdown and had to stay in bed re-reading the entire Little House series****** for a week.

But then, armed with the knowledge that almost anything in life can be fixed by making a pie and listening to Pa play the fiddle, I actually had some realizations.  I know. It was like giving birth, as a matter of fact.  Only worse because I didn't get any drugs to help with the pain.

----I never wanted to leave Bloomington in the first place. I didn't want to go away to college, and I didn't want to move away again after I spent many useless years in grad school here.  I have known this since I was a teenager, but I never listened to it.  I thought it was so much more important to Have a Career that I just told myself that living here again was Impossible.  And I liked lots of things about living in Ohio.  But most of the things I liked about it [besides the bead and yarn shopping] were things I liked because they reminded me of Bloomington in some way.  Hippie neighborhoods.  Trees.  Universities. A variety of foreign food, although, unlike here, all those restaurants were NOT conveniently located on one street.
 And you can certainly see what good use I've put that Vassar degree to, sitting here in the middle of the day whinging and whining on my blog.

My Realizations:
-----The main things I am good at are making dolls and being a smart ass.  Really, really good at them. 
-----These are not huge profit-making skills
-----I'm also a very good teacher.  I love beading, and I'm good at it. Not as good as I am at dolls, but still, not too shabby.  But I am a great beading teacher.  For some reason, with students, I have the patience that I lack in pretty much every other area of life.  Every time my family hears that my students think I am the "most patient teacher ever", they fall about in hysterics and need to be revived with well placed smacks.
----If I am going to ever try and make a living with art, I am going to have to totally freeload off other people for a while to get started.  I mean, even more than I already was freeloading, which was completely.  And since I had [have] not yet married a wealthy person, that left my parents.  Who had actually been encouraging me to move in with them for quite a while.

Oh my god I am so long winded and annoying even to myself.  I must go soothe my savage beast of a brain with some reality TV and perhaps a Judy Blume book.

* More than 12, if you have it on DVD with no commercials, I must add.
** Whoa.  I wonder if it is on iTunes? Then I could put it on my iPhone!!!
*** My parents. They don't like me to use their names, talk/write about them at all, and especially not on the Internet.  One out of three isn't bad.
****Sometimes, I just get tired of writing out the word "Republican"
***** No. I'm not afraid of them.  I just read Charlotte's Web one too many damn times.
******This is what I do when I can't do anything else. I don't know why, and please don't ask me to analyze it, for Christ's sake.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Getting around my own brain

Ok I have realized something about myself.....and you know how I hate that.

I should never end a post with "I'm going to talk about something next time" because what that means is that
1. I will put off writing another post even longer than usual, apparently because
2. Now that I've stated my objective to write/think about something in particular, my mind goes absolutely blank on that subject
3. By the time I DO work up enough guilt/energy/level of ADD meds in my system to write about that subject, it is so much later that no one cares anyway
4. And, by procrastinating so long about whatever said topic was in the first place, I've now probably thought of eight other really good things to write about, and not done them because I kept telling myself, "No, you have to write about that other thing first" and so then I forget what all of those things were.

So.  New rules for blogging:

1. Just fucking WRITE whatever comes into my head at that moment.
2. Don't make any rules.

Whoa. I feel like, all light and free now!

Wait, that might just be because I don't have anything on under my robe. Never mind.