Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Dark I Know Well

I don't have much to say lately. Rather, I don't have much that I care to say.

I haven't really left the house much because I've been sick. Looking forward to tomorrow's doctor's appointment; hoping some sort of functional resolution will be achieved.

Regardless, life is good and unexpected and I'm trying not to base my expectations and happiness on the actions (or potential inactions) of others. All I will say about it is that I'm enjoying what's happening and I hope that it continues.

As much as it scares me to say this, I've been reconsidering the idea of finishing my degree in state. I've spent so long wanting to get out, that the very notion that I would be better off in Arizona is...disconcerting, to say the least. Now that I'm no longer tied to Phoenix, I'm seeing all of the amazing things Phoenix has to offer. Especially in terms of a career, I think it might actually be feasible to market my art and continue to grow as an artist (a concept so foreign to me in my anti-Phoenix daze). I will, however, still continue with the application process, but I suppose it's comforting to know that I have options (that I would be happy with, no less).

Working on some really...fun work for next month. There's something just plain delightful to me about utilizing kid's art supplies to make fine art. The bits and pieces I've finished thus far are turning out quite nicely.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Don't Do Sadness

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My entire life, I'd always felt this strange, unplaceable restlessness. I remember being about seven or eight and telling my mother "I feel like I'm waiting for something, but I don't know what it is. Sometimes life's just...too much." She nodded and went about her business, so I assumed that EVERYONE must feel this way all the time. It wasn't until mid-high school when I found out that wasn't the case.

Generally, I'm able to manage it and suffer through things that cause me anxiety. Recently, though, it's gotten to be too much and it's unfortunate that people are unable to really understand when I try to explain exactly what's going on. My hands get clammy, my face gets hot and I have insane nausea; my chest tightens and breathing becomes a struggle and in the midst of a panic attack, I honestly feel like I might die if I don't escape. For me, it's a feeling rooted in the unfamiliar. If I don't know exactly what's going to happen or if I feel trapped, an attack is much more likely. Sometimes, though, even comfortable and mundane situations are panic-inducing. The problem with anxiety is that there is no finite trigger. It's simply a matter of "is the stress of living going to get to me today?"

Imagine you have to carry a ten pound weight, only you can only use your shoulders. Easy enough, right? That ten pound weight is your job, let's say. Okay, now add another for every person in your family. And another for each one of your goals, and another for every regret. Getting heavy yet? Okay, add one for every bill you have and every social engagement you have for the next three months. And three more, just for the sake of it. Wait, I forgot something. Every time you try to take off a weight, some asshole's going to come by and add two more. Just because he's a dick.

At some point, you're going to be so heavy that you have to do something, anything to get out. Cue panic attack.

Being an outgoing person with agoraphobia is strange. My extroversion comes from an overwhelming desire to compensate for the fact that I'm so anxious all the time. Some days, weeks, even months are fine, but when I'm going through a bout of anxiety, it's crippling and I literally have to mentally prepare myself for hours just to leave the house. It's having negative emotional, mental, and physical effects on me, to the point where I miss important events in my loved ones (and my own) lives, I always have this uneasiness and nausea in the back of my throat, I make myself physically ill at least twice a month (as I am right now), and my shoulders and back are in a constant ache from carrying this invisible weight on my shoulders all day.

Friday, I finally bought health insurance after six years of being uninsured. As an adult, I've recused any adolescent notions I had about medication as a means of escape. I just want to be able to do the things that are important to me. I don't want to continue missing out on opportunities.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Is a Conjunction

A few days ago, I had this strange, heavy feeling on my shoulders. I couldn't shake it, this weight. Having experienced more than my fair share of anxiety in my twenty-four years, I couldn't understand this particular breed of restless loneliness.

And then it hit me. Fun.

I was no longer affording myself the opportunity to have fun. Fun. It was that simple. I made a promise to myself that there would be nothing but good times from here on out, and I'm holding myself to it. Just because I'm buckling down and focusing on school and my career doesn't mean I have to sacrifice my emotional well being. Spending time with Xchel, Shane, and Clif has been wonderful and refreshing and I hope it continues. I'm enjoying the company that I keep and working hard not to worry too much and overanalyze things. It's been nice, the past few days, to be able to reflect on the day and declare it a good one.

I've confirmed participation in another show for October, bringing the total to 4. In terms of the goal I set back in July (12 shows before the end of 2010), this brings the total to 9. Whether I meet my goal or not, I'm really proud of the work I've done recently. I can wholeheartedly say that I truly put myself into this work. I'm so happy about that.

Life's not so hard. It's time to cheer up.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Yellow Flowers Never Took My Breath Away

It's hard to let go of someone you love. Damn near impossible.

I think about this daily. The moments with him that were amazing and life affirming, the moments that made me feel like I was repeatedly running head first into a wall and I wonder where things went so wrong. Two people who loved each other, but were so damaged they couldn't have faith in one another? There's almost no way anything healthy could come from that. We spent years running to and away from each other, and now after he's run away from Phoenix, I'm leaving knowing that no matter where I go and what I do, he'll always be in my heart. The notion (no matter how silly it might be) that someday things might work out will always be in the back of my mind. He was my first love, and I thank him for that. He taught me to love fearlessly, which is something I never had the courage to do with him. While the mistakes I made are painful and wear heavy on my soul, he taught me how not to make those same mistakes again. And I never will.

Maybe it's the unwittingly hopeful part of me, but I firmly believe that we'll get another chance someday. And when that day comes, I promise to grab the life I desire with both hands. You gave me that courage.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is No Great Illusion

School started about two weeks ago. Honestly? I was fucking terrified. I haven't been in school for almost four years, so a thousand questions and concerns were running through my mind. Would my instructors like me? Would there be too much homework? Can I even still write a paper? How embarrassing, I thought, would it be to fail a class I've already gotten an A in?

Alas, I seem to be doing well. Because my courses are self-paced, I'm at least a good week ahead on all of my assignments (three weeks in three of my courses, rather.)

This semester, I'm taking Art History: Prehistoric Through Gothic, Art History: Renaissance Through Contemporary, History of Western Civ 1865 to Present, and Universal Themes of Humanity. I'm really enjoying what I'm learning so far. The difference this time around is that I'm really seeing the value in the education I'm getting and I'm grateful to have this opportunity to go back to school. Around the time that I dropped out, I seemed to be getting caught in the common trap of "Oh, I'm on my own now...let's eat ice cream for breakfast and build forts!"

Don't get me wrong, I love a good couch-cushion fort, but having a second chance to get my degree is amazing and I'm taking care to ensure that no amount of frivolity distracts me from that. I don't want to fuck it up this time.

Sidenote: maybe it's the teacher's pet in me, but when I received feedback on my first HUM201 paper, I got such an obnoxious twinge of excitement when the instructor told me I did a fantastic job and she was super impressed with my ideas and execution. Nerd moment over, let's move on.

This semester is very important. When I left school, my record was in shambles. My GPA dropped to a pathetic 2.6. 2.6? FUCKING SRSLY? That's just depressing. That being said, however, if I am able to secure a 4.0 this semester, and a 3.0 next semester, my GPA will be prepared to a much more reasonable standard. If this happens, I'll feel much more comfortable in my collegiate pursuits because I won't feel like I'm walking around with a giant "I'm a Stupid Loser!" sandwich board anymore.

In other school news: I've started compiling all of the individual documents requied for my applications. It's...scary. But SO amazing.

In non school news: one of my shows is listed on the front page of CenPho.com. Holy. cow. I've never gotten this kind of exposure before. It's such a jarring experience to go from being a marginally known character who paints in the district to being regarded as a legitimate and respected artist in Phoenix as a whole. It's really a humbling experience to receive acclaim from people I admire and respect just doing what I love to do. It's so...surreal. I feel very lucky.