Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chaos, Erraticism, and Puzzle Pieces

Every so often my brain shuts down almost entirely, except for one thing it wants to mull over. It does this because there's something in a specific topic I need to understand, or come to terms with, or figure out the why of. It's something of an instinctual mechanism. I don't notice the triggers, most of the time. I can't always figure out the triggers afterwards. And, I don't always complete the analysis in a timely manner. I don't always get time and mental space to gnaw at the bones of the topic until it gives up its secrets. Sometimes I need assistance analyzing, because I can't see every angle all the time, and I don't always get that assistance, either. You know how life goes... stuff gets in the way of other stuff, until there's just... lots(too much) of stuff.

I just know, that if my mind cuts everything else out, to the point that it is a ridiculous effort just to -want- to focus on anything else, even for a small amount of time, that there is a reason, a need, to pore over the topic under the proverbial microscope.

The topic this time? A once-friend and (truly, in the worst sense - no offense, Mags!) wicked witch. Wicked Witch acted for a time as a big sister to me, which was both balm and bane at times. We connected in areas that I'd never had someone to connect to before. She was the only one who understood certain aspects of my being, the only one I could talk to about certain things, and also a buffer between me and others around me, during a huge transition. She took it on herself to be that buffer, to shield me from the possible (probable) problems that might have arisen from the over-enthusiasm of other friends around me during said transition (i.e. getting married and moving to a new town, in a new state, with no-one I was truly familiar with around me). I both appreciated and detested her intervention. I would have to face certain things at some point or another (like the fact that two of the female friends in the group I had married into had, at one time, dated and/or been engaged to my now ex-husband). But I was glad for the fact that I didn't have to face it all at once. She protected me from the worst of it, though now I wonder if perhaps that protection didn't harm, in the long run. Ah, well, we are never given to know the might-have-beens...

So it was no wonder, when Wicked Witch became such a friend.

And then SHTF (Sh*t Hit The Fan). You know, things happen. Especially in a group of close-knit friends who have known each other for varying numbers of years. She pissed some of them off, they pissed her off... she and her man moved away (which they had been planning for a year anyway), and things just kind of blew over. Though, to hear them tell it, Wicked Witch had been actively screwing everyone over in one way or another over the years. I can't judge; I wasn't there, but I know who I'm inclined to believe, at this point.

And then more SHTF. My life exploded in directions I had never envisioned. Wicked Witch had predicted it; she once said I was young, and would never stay with my husband. She said it wouldn't last, and I, with the certainty of overconfident youth, shook my head and shrugged and forgot about it. Well, Wicked Witch, you were right about that, at the very least. When I first began the laborious and (unnecessarily)protracted process of leaving my husband, she was there for me, despite the previous SHTF. She listened, and gave sage advice as she was wont to do, which was echoed by my acupuncturist(who is also a spiritual and sweet, wise lady in her own way), and a counselor I trusted. My best friend agreed that it was sound advice, so I(and my Dragon) tried to follow it. I moved in with Wicked Witch, with plans to settle things with my (now-ex-)husband and then move forward with my life, before publicizing certain things I'm not proud of, but they happened and I have to live with it and move on if I can. Demons like that -have- to be laid to rest sooner or later, or they eat us alive, one bloody little sharp-toothed nibble after another.

So I(we) tried. My Dragon and I couldn't avoid each other, it was... impossible. Wicked Witch aided and abetted the secrecy, with her silence and then by inviting my Dragon to visit us for her birthday (I was still -technically- married at this stage. Hence the not-proud-but-dealing-with-it thing). Let me make that additionally clear: she invited him. She was HELPING. And, according to what we have been told by those involved, everyone at that damned birthday party knew, because she had told them. So we played out this farce of pretending to just be friends during her party, while everyone there looked at us sideways and made the entire day bloody awkward, and we had no idea why.

And then, after some things were said and I decided it was no longer in my (or Wicked Witch's) best interest to stay, I moved to my Mom's house, after duly discussing it with the (almost) ex-husband (the little ones were supposed to be staying with me at that point, and I felt that it would be best if my Mom was around, so when I got a job, there was help to be had, as I couldn't afford daycare). Almost-Ex agreed with me, that I needed assistance. (Though he would have preferred I go to my Dad's, but there are, sometimes, things a Mom can do that a Dad cannot.) I needed help and support that Wicked Witch couldn't provide, working long hours and all. I was, once again, trying to do the right thing. No hard feelings... I and my girls had needs and I had to do something to meet them. It was the grown-up, responsible, logical Mommy-decision to make. Or at least, that's how I felt about it.

I guess Wicked Witch didn't agree. No sooner than I had left, then she had gone running to the (almost) ex with a twisted sob story of events, mostly untrue, which catapulted a squishy, wriggling entropic cascade failure into my lap. I don't know why she did it. I am not sure I want to know. She acted like she wanted to help me, and she did (or so I thought) and then set us up for a betrayal of epic proportions. If I had been smart, I would have known better. I should have known better, after other... things. The others, my friends, had tried to warn me. Other events should have taught me better, but in the moment... bah! How can we explain the things that we choose, when the Moment is upon us? In point of fact, one of my friends asked me point blank, "why her?" Wicked Witch was, I thought, a neutral party and would have no stake in the goings-on, and thus was "safe," but I was wrong.

I don't seek to apportion blame. This series of... heh... unfortunate events... has weighed heavily on my mind this evening, and I don't know why. Perhaps it is that very lack of comprehension of Wicked Witch's motivation that eats at me so.

I know I miss the companionship. She is one of two fellow women whom I have been able to share what I consider "girly" moments with on a regular basis. She and I drank together, went clubbing together, shopped together... well, you get the idea. There have been others here and there, isolated moments of connection, but Wicked Witch was one of two. The other is refusing to acknowledge my existence for reasons irrelevant to Wicked Witch. I realize that this whole "girly" thing is partially my own problem, and I could go into analyzing -that- particular issue, but I've already written enough drivel for now. I have no one, now, except my Dragon. I mean that quite literally! No friend to call up and hang out with. No girlfriend to call in the middle of the night and cry with.  Again, I can admit my own fault in that area, but at the same time... I don't think I'm the only one to blame for the lack. I have both lost and been abandoned, in the same breath, by the same people (and myself). The problem I have with it, is that I don't think it was for the right reasons. On either side(s).

I don't know how to talk about this, not now, so long after it happened. I don't know how to apologize. I don't know if it'll mean anything if I do, and I don't know how to ask. Well. I -am- sorry, but I don't know if it matters now.

I don't know why this has come up. I don't know why I've chosen to post this here. Except that I said once, months ago, that truth would come out, and not everyone would necessarily like it. And my dear friend Magaly told me that, often, anonymity in catharsis could be (would be) a saving grace. So here you have it, friends. I don't know if anyone who knows the Wicked Witch will read this... I think there's a 50/50 chance of it - hell, there's an even chance of herself reading this, and that makes me giggle a little - but I feel a little better for getting this out of my head.

In the words of River Tam: "It isn't mine, and I shouldn't have to carry it."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Documented (Artful Reader) Life Project

So I joined in with two community projects this year, the Documented Life Project and the Artful Reader's Club (thanks to Magaly), and they're slowly becoming melded together in my head, like my Muse took up a welding torch and went to town. It's sloppy, but inevitable. And, you never know, something cool might come out of it.

The Documented Life Project is a weekly inspiration group for art journaling. The Artful Reader's Club read books, review them, and do art based on the books.  The second is right up my alley. The first... a touch outside of my Muse's regular hunting grounds. But that's rather the point, now, isn't it? It's time my Muse stretched herself a bit... now to hope she doesn't rebel. It's usually rather ugly when she does.

Before you read any further, I should explain two things about myself:

1) I am a chaotic soul. I don't do well with schedules or plans or resolutions etc. I hop from one project to another and back again without warning or (sometimes) conclusion. This is why I have so many unfinished stories sitting on my hard drive (added to the fact that I'm having issues with my word processor on the birthday present machine).

2) I am easily distracted by bright shiny objects. This kind of goes along with the chaotic soul thing, but is also somewhat of its own entity. It just makes the chaos a little... sparklier.

So, here's hoping I'll be able to stick with this, and forge it into something beautiful. Here's to re-crafting my... our... life, with Documented Life Project (week 1) somewhat late but better than never:

 My (once upon a time to come) Front Door, 
crafted in pen and colored pencil, and Tombow brush markers:

The beginning of my Artful Reader's Club book list:
1) Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink - Susan Pesznecker
2) Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales
3) The Poems of Robert Burns
4) Tales of Mystery and Imagination - E.A. Poe (a collection)
5) The Te of Piglet - Benjamin Hoff
6) Hyperion Cantos - Dan Simmons (February challenge - to re-read a book(s) you love)

More to come.
-the Artful (hopeful) White Fox.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shove it All in a Blender and See What Comes Out.

Or, if you prefer a more dignified title, then: "Recrafting an Artist's Life" might be more appropriate.

"Recrafting"? What the devil is that? Recycling, reusing, and generally finding a way to remake something. Upcycling. Get it?

So when I say "Recrafting an Artist's Life", what does that say to you? I bet it's not this(though this is often how it feels when one is in the midst of it):

Setting: a (once) lonely young woman, wife, mother of two, and sometime artist and crafter. She bobs through her life like a stick on a river, never noticing when the river turns, or the rain falls, or even really when she goes over the waterfalls. Rapids and languid lazyness alike wash over her; she is as unaware of the currents that carry her as she is of the dangers that lurk beneath the water she floats upon. She is powerless, unaware of her arms and legs. All she sees is the sky, and occasional flashes of green along the banks. One day, she snags upon some flotsam as she's going around a riverbend, and discovers she's thoroughly stuck. Well, here I am, she thinks to herself as she stares up at the stars.

Then, another comes along and points out that she has legs. So she gets up, takes his hand, and walks away, taking joy in the newness of it. She dances in the grass. She sleeps beneath the trees. She bathes in the waters that once carried her but feels no inclination or desire to ride those currents once again. Gradually, the riverbank can no longer sustain her. so she walks into the woods, to find a new way of being. She tries to carry what she loves with her, but is prevented, through life and circumstance getting in the way. She claws at the injustice forced upon her and her children; some things have been out of her control. Some things, she cannot change. She is told that she is abandoning her husband and children. She is told she's a terrible person... selfish, greedy, unrealistic. Head in the clouds. They tell her she acts like the world owes her something. They say a lot.

But she knows the truth... she has spent many hours, as she trudges beneath the boughs, in thought and contemplation. She has agonized over every decision. She knows what the cost is, better than anyone else, except the one who walks with her. She prays that the sacrifice will be worth it in the end, but she does not believe her prayers are heard anymore. They slog through mud, and find dead ends in the forest. They try to climb up, climb out, but the cliffs are too sheer. the rocks too sharp.  They scrape by in the canyons, in the harsh, greedy, grungy, ugly parts that very few who know her seem to see or understand. The world is set against the unprivileged, the downtrodden, those who have lost, and is determined to keep them that way. There is no help to be found.

She has some skill with precious metals and gems, with sculpting and carving, and with words. She has some knowledge of old things, of herbs and medicines, of green and growing things. He has skill with hammer and fire, metal and wood, and is no stranger to hard work. He would embrace it like a lover if he could. There is none to be found. He, too, has knowledge. It does them no good. They have exchanged one pitfall for another, and it seems too late now.
-End Scene-

There's no ending yet for this story. I know how I would have it end, but I'm starting to lose my belief in the idea that I can actually do anything about it. But that's all in the recrafting. I remember that I used to use pen and paper a lot, to write down the things that were important. I remember a lot of things that are out of reach, but this one's not. I used to take a lot of notes, on art and plants and jewelry and medicines and anything else I found. All that went into storage when we lost our place to live. Except for one notebook that has a surprising amount of pages left blank.

We have to find a way to recraft our life. There's few options on the how-to, but there's no choice for the have-to, because no one's really even willing to hear our problems, much less lend a hand up. So I'm starting with the little things, and I'm going to take notes on what I *can* do, here and now, to recraft our surroundings. Do I think it'll create a little sympathetic magic in the rest of our life, slowly transforming everything from the ground up? No, I really don't. But it might make the day-to-day a little more pleasant. The day-to-day is all we've got right now.

I don't have money to buy soil, or pots to garden in, or a shovel to dig up some of the yard. But I do have some empty jars, 2-liter soda bottles and old shoes, and the potential for composting to enrich the yard dirt I can scrape up with my fingernails. There's a stretch of forest behind us to forage in. We don't have money to take our crafting to flea markets or craft shows (gas money+booth+tables and displays=impossible), and I don't have any idea how to get around that. We don't have extra money to list any of my jewelry or Dragon's creations on Etsy, but I do have a  Facebook Page, and a deviantART gallery, and the Twinflame Studios blog, and PayPal, where there are ways to connect with potential customers. I have no effing clue how to improve the Studio's presence online, and most of the sage advice from other small crafters online doesn't seem to take certain aspects of our situation into account. Like the fact that we have no dedicated workspace, and a two year old who's too clever with her fingers by half. Put her to work, you say? Well, Wise Reader, she's more likely to hide the beads down the air vents in the floor than she is to string them...

(And I come back to my surroundings for just a moment, just long enough to realize there's been a bowl of chips, which Moira has shared with me out of her bag, sitting on the counter next to me for over a half hour, untouched... such is the writer's existence...)

The point is, that right now, we don't have the means or opportunity to do much, but I'm going to try to find a way to do *something* with the mediocre bits of existence we do have to hand. I can't change what's been. I don't really think I can change the future, either, with the way the world's going. Our circumstances are *not* going to change anytime soon, unless someone can point the way to a miracle. It's either recraft, or go crazy while nothing changes. Maybe the hours can be a little brighter as they fade behind us.

I just wish... someone, anyone, would listen, just a little. We do need help.

And don't hesitate to ask me questions, or send me suggestions, or any such thing. I welcome it. If you feel the need to start a private message about this, I invite you to do so on FB or e-mail. In fact, I'll post it this once in violation of a very strict personal taboo: spottedcheshire @

Don't abuse it. You *will* be spam-foldered if you do. ;)