28 August 2008

A Living Experiment. . .in Living

6 days ago, Craig left for 6 weeks at sea. What's a girl to do with a month and a half on the Italian Riviera? Without job or other major obligation ~beyond the cat, who is, as you may guess, a little fur sack of bones and MEH!, more demanding than most roommates and to whom I am boundlessly devoted~ it could become The Lost Weekend of epic proportions. Or just a big fat waste of time. Or, just maybe, a personal experiment of peeling away expectations, examining just what could make my life tick and flow rather than stutter and stagnate. How often, if ever, does one have such an unstructured block of time to pursue occupation only as inspired, eat whenever but only when hungry, to sleep when taken by it?

What a luxury it is to be able to put my life under a microscope for no one's dissection but my own. And every time I do, there are artifacts, things from which all practicality has drained, and they remain as awkward souvenirs better pasted into the scrapbook of memory. It was so liberating the day I rolled up all of my linens. Understand, my mother kept a beautiful home and her linen closet might have been set with a T-square and plumb line. So, that was my template and for years I tried to keep her standard, never succeeding. When I realized she did it that way because doing so pleased her, and failing to do so certainly didn't please me, and.... here is the best part... there are other ways to organize the sheets, I was free to leave Little Peg's perfect linen closet in the house I grew up in, with all the other precious memories of those years. Every time I discover another one of these artifacts, be they habits or ideas, that I can set safely aside and replace with something different that works for me, it is growth. Each of us as individuals is molded throughout our lives by so many people and forces, we are constantly becoming. . . what we become requires vigilance and care.

So, it is an exciting responsibility, to know myself better and thereby have been productive during this marvelously free time. By the time Craig returns, I hope to have not only physical proof of my productivity, but also a perceptible improvement of myself. I've begun a list of things to do, and one of things accomplished, dated. Every day I intend to be able to add one to the latter, if only to justify the day's passing. Honestly, it doesn't matter how big or important the project has been, only that some mark has been left on the day, something happened.

I'm curious to see the things I do or do not do because he is not here. And why. How many expectations do I place on normal days without just cause? The things I do not do now, I should note and ask if he values them or if I've imagined their need to be done. And things I do now, which I must believe would make him crazy, perhaps would not.

But perhaps also, in order to live peaceably with another, what one does not mind of one's own does give offense to the other. My dirty dishes are familiar to me; this smear is ketchup, this dish was cat food, this sludge is coffee from days gone by. But anyone else's? I don't know what lurks in the bottom of that big bowl of murky water! Also my shoes, I know where I've left them. But in the dark, were he here, they would become a hazard.

So, upon identifying the habit, the first discernment is whether one could abide it, or the lack thereof, in the other.

Ahh, good work for today. Add "philosophizing" to the Accomplished list.

04 August 2008

I'm Not "The Crazy Old Lady with 100 Cats"

Putting my time where my mouth is (see previous post), today my art is a line of designs for clothing and accessories. It's called 97 Cats...More or Less, because, you know, people always talk about the crazy old lady with 100 cats. Most of the pieces have this name on the outside somewhere because Italians love English writing on their clothes and bags which makes no sense.

It began with my general inclination toward buying plain clothes, solid colors, basics. But I bore even myself. I was tired of my clothes, but if it's in good shape, why get rid of it only to be buying something else? However, if it's already too dull to wear, that gives me absolute license to do something to it. Its fate couldn't be worse than neglected in a drawer.

So out come the Jones Tones (fantastic fabric paints available at Dharma Trading) to meet with old T-shirts for a second chance at love. Starting with simple, iconic (yeah yeah, I've heard the word has been banned by newspaper editors as over-used to the point of homeopathic dilution, but literally, how cool would it be to see 97 Cats in a desk-top theme?) line drawings, the first pieces were born:

Now, doodling on old or inexpensive clothes is one thing, but it would take more confidence to lay out my brand new $50 PacSafe purse and put the paint to it. This bag is awesome for wandering cities, uber secure (as described in detail on their website), and I wouldn't carry another ~except my larger version when I just can't go without a sweater, water bottle, umbrella, phrasebook et al~ but while its stalwart character is deeply embedded, the poor thing lacked charisma. Jones Tones comes through with... dare I say it? flying colors. It took to the nylon like brown on rice and is so flexible, not stiff and cracky at all.

What's in your closet that isn't really "you"? Giving to charity is always a great option, but if it's still a keeper, you could make it fabulous, dig it for a while, then circulate your art to the less fortunate. Who wouldn't love finding that one of a kind, hand-made piece in the thrift store?

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